Recently I was watching a talent show on tv. This particular evening a young woman sang, and the audience was thrilled. The judges gushed over her performance, and one judge was so excited about her that she rushed onto the stage to give her a hug. She said several times, “You’re so special, so very very special!”
And it rubbed me the wrong way.
Yes, the young woman obviously had a beautiful singing voice. She sounded fantastic, and it was clear that she would advance in the competition. She was talented, and she was special.
But we’re all special. We’re all unique. We all have talents and skills and qualities that would win each and every one of us a ‘golden buzzer’ experience. But what often happens is that those tv show experiences leave many of us sitting at home feeling like we’re not special.
That’s the downside to competition– someone ends up on top being labeled the “best” or the “greatest” while the rest of the field isn’t. We live in a culture and society that values being #1, and everything else is not good enough. We seem to put more emphasis on the end product (like winning a singing competition) instead of the effort that goes into the journey along the way.
Singing and piano were my two main instruments in music school. Am I good at both of those? Yes. Would I win a talent competition for either of them? Probably not. Does that make me less special? Not at all. Over the years I’ve learned an important life lesson. At the end of the day, what’s most important is not if I’ve come out on top at #1. What’s most important is that I’ve been genuinely and authentically myself, that I’ve shared what’s unique about me with others.
The beauty is that each of us can do that. Maybe your specialty is making pancakes exactly how your kids love them. Or you excel at customer service at work. Or you say just the right thing when your friends need support. Or you’re a whiz at managing schedules. Or you remember exactly how your regular customer likes her latte. Or you write the most gracious ‘thank you’ notes.
Whatever it is, it likely wouldn’t win any of us the #1 spot on a tv show competition. But that doesn’t make us any less special than those who do. So let’s stop looking through the lens of competition and judging our skills and abilities based on that. Let’s focus, instead, on those areas where we shine!