The Skill Set

The Skill Set

Gift by Byte Rider
Gift by Byte Rider

All of us come in with natural gifts. Some we’re born with and some arise over time. They’re natural qualities of the framework we’re born with.

Our society places an emphasis on things like smarts, perceived beauty, athletic ability, and extroversion. But our gifts can take many forms – even to be a disrupter. They can be physical, emotional, mental, intellectual, intuitive, empathic, or spiritual.

Trouble is, our gifts may seem quite ordinary to us. Often we’ll need feedback from others to recognize their value. They’ll be extraordinary for them, like healing, composing music, or physical stamina. If we don’t recognize our gifts, we may not value or culture them.

Our first job in this life is getting to know what those skills and gifts are. They’ll steer our life, even if we don’t recognize them. For example, I have a gift that was once called “storage and retrieval of knowledge.” I had not recognized it until then but once stated, it was obvious in every major role I’ve had.

Our culture often does a poor job of supporting our self-discovery. And our upbringing may have challenged our gifts. Parents may not welcome some talents and we may have learned to suppress them. That noisy child may be a natural singer, for example. Or we got negative feedback in school as we got pushed to fit in.

Further, our gifts are not for or about us. They’re about what we offer the world. They point to why we’re here and say more about dharma or purpose.

If we ask “Why am I here?” outside this collective context, we’ll miss the point. It’s not about you. Your gifts are to give to others.

Our second job is to develop those gifts and find a way to offer them. This is about meeting the need of the time. As the collective is constantly flowing and evolving, we want to learn to go with the flow.

This is the dance of life, a call and response to discover how we can serve.

Joseph Campbell famously said “follow your bliss.” This is because joy is a signal we’re on the right path. Ease and results are too.

A further challenge is the play of karma. Life will bring us challenges to work out. These will be temporary circumstances that we’re obliged to work through. But these challenges are distinct from our calling.

And yet, even karma will show up through the filter of dharma. For example, I had work that dominated a decade of my life that was very karmic. But the role was very much as described above – storage and retrieval of police evidence.

By serving the world instead of ourselves, we increase results and resolve karma rather than making more. R. Buckminster Fuller described the process as precession. This is stepping into the flow. We don’t need all the answers, just enough understanding to work with life rather than against it.

If we don’t develop our gifts into skills, they won’t have as much practical value. Not that we’re required to develop every gift. Different time periods may emphasize different scenarios as the karma plays out. But our theme song continues to play.

Ultimately, it’s not our gifts but what we do with them that counts.

Right action flows automatically if there is no hindrance to it. The result flows back quickly, sometimes enhanced.

But if there is some shadow or resistance, some blind spot, this can impede smooth flow. I’ve yet to meet anyone completely clear.

Awakening certainly speeds up the healing process but it still unfolds in time, in the chapters of our life. We still need to recognize our blind spots.

And that’s where others can help. They can reflect our resistance back to us, if we’re willing to see it.

Some people have gifts at helping, coaching us through resistance and motivating right action.

Even someone very awake may still have a blind spot they have not yet resolved. By using a coach or expert, they can get an external influence to help.

When the person has largely been resolved, there is also less drive to do something “personal.” By bringing in an outside influence like a friend or coach, movement can happen.

We can all use a helping hand, supporting each other on our journey.

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  1. Thank you for another great essay. While reading it, I have realized that I have always taught. I have taught literally at every level of the education system, and I am still teaching – art and yoga at this time. I have never quite thought about my dharma this way – your writing clarifies things.

    Each of us is a unique expression, a manifested treasure of the flow of the consciousness.

  2. K

    Nice post. Someone said the other day “K- calls it like it is and cuts to the chase”. Someone also said that I was the fastest decision maker they have seen. I am going to assume that this is my skill set :-). I did not even know I had these skills or these were even skills. I saw that some people were more thoughtful (and slower) than I was and also some people had a lot of patience compared to me. I assume there can be downsides to all skills. I can see where “calling it like it is” may not help though more recently it has been breaking some log jams 🙂

    1. Hi K
      Great example. We discover them through interaction with others.
      Skills require discrimination – when its appropriate to apply them. If a teacher tries to teach someone who already knows… And yes, you want to check receptivity and not be pushy about honesty. Many value the trait but it can be used with tact.
      You may find the Helping Others section of this article useful. Some people do process problems in other ways that are slower but may be more comprehensive.
      We can’t say one approach is better than another, just different. One may be better in a business setting or emergency, another in child-rearing, for example.
      Patience may be a virtue or a gift but I wouldn’t consider it a downside of making quick decisions. It’s distinct to me. You’d have to look at what’s driving it in you to know.

  3. I wanted to clarify part of the opening. I mention “some arise over time.” We were still born with these gifts but because of other factors, they don’t show up until later. Late bloomers would be an example.
    Perhaps there is some major karma to resolve, some learning to happen, or some timing in the collective.
    I’ve had several experiences like that where certain understanding was withheld until the time came, then the expression arose and it became obvious.

  4. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is not just a teaching of the sacred scriptures, it is also common sense. It might be simply summarized as “what goes around, comes around,” an idiomatic expression of the laws of karma.

  5. herwig


    I got the message.
    Last week I watched Adyashanti’s wonderful speech at the SAND conference on Redemptive Love >
    There is the gift of divine love, free to all, no entrance fee, no prerequisites, no strings attached, no small print. You do not deserve it, and you know that. It does not matter. It is non-exclusive, accessible to all. Even to me.

    The real challenge is to express it somehow, if you are not honey-tongued by nature.

    I love this quote by Woody Allen: 😉

    “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.”

    1. Yep, Herwig, and it’s really not about deserving. A mother always loves her children.
      It’s astonishing how much pain and suffering exist simply because people have forgotten this.
      There is a saying “love will find a way.” Most don’t have the gift of a honey tongue. But the simple presence of love soothes those around. Embodying it is an expression.

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