My favourite reality TV star is the complete opposite of what successful performers are meant to look like – she is neither young nor glamorous and doesn’t wears skimpy outfits. In fact, when she auditioned on national TV in front of ten million viewers, she stood on stage with hands on hips, portly, frumpily dressed, sporting a mat of grey frizzy hair. At the time, she was forty-seven years old, unmarried, was an unemployed charity worker, and lived alone with her cat in a small village in Scotland. And her strength, the thing that ignited her passion for life? Singing. Every chance she got she sang in church choirs and at village pubs. For as long as she could remember she had always dreamed of being a professional singer performing to large audiences.
And then she got her opportunity and sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent. The outcome was nothing short of astonishing. The audience, including myself, were at first dumbstruck and then mesmerized by the sound that floated from her mouth. She may not have had the honeyed looks of a Taylor Swift, the ethereal virtuosity of a Whitney Houston, nor the breakneck gyrating stage presence of a Beyoncé, but she had a voice that could stop a host of angels in mid-flight.
I’m talking, of course, about Susan Boyle. And since that audition she has proven all of her critics wrong, and despite her age, looks, and lack of formal singing training, she has achieved her dream of becoming a successful professional singer. She’s living proof that if you persevere with your own strengths you too can realize your own dreams.
What are your own unique strengths and abilities? Ask yourself the following questions: What things are you passionate about doing? What things make you feel alive and fulfilled? What activities make you lose track of time? When do you feel most yourself? What things do people often ask you for help with? What things were you good at doing as a child?
Once you recognise your strengths you will be able to make clearer life choices. For example, your strength for public speaking might point towards a career as a teacher or company trainer, a strength for organising might suggest a career in sports management or event planning, a strength for details a career as an architect or an accountant. Also, using your strengths on a daily basis will increase your self-confidence and make you more resilient to any curve balls that life throws your way. And remember that, like Susan Boyle, the more you commit to developing and applying your strengths each day the happier and more successful you will be knowing that you are creating the best and most authentic version of yourself.
What is one of your strengths that you are currently developing? And for what goal?
Please leave your comment below.
(Selected comments will appear anonymously in my upcoming book The Happiness Challenge.)