The Secret Ingredient

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My family and are fond of the movie Kung Fu Panda.  In the film, the main character is out of place,  expected to fail and seeking a secret ingredient enabling him to succeed.   At a key point, the main character comes to the realization that there is no magical, secret ingredient, but that you are the one who makes whatever you do special by what you bring to the table. The thing that made my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies so intoxicating was the secret ingredient she put into it was her care for her family and the joy of watching us eat them with smiles on our faces.

In our interfaces and interactions with others, what is the uniqueness that we bring to the mix? What is our secret ingredient? If your personality were a restaurant, what item would people come back for again and again? What trait, quirk or attribute is the thing people want more of? What do they admire, appreciate, and what can’t they get enough of.

In business what unique and indefinable quality do we each bring to the table that only we can provide? If you aren’t aware of what that is, maybe you should. Knowing what we are good at will help us sharpen our skills and focus on areas where we can be successful. I was meeting with a CEO recently and when I left the meeting I knew exactly what he thought of me and I knew what he liked about me and what he didn’t. I was fully aware immediately after I left his office. Later this was confirmed when I probed his team for comments and impressions about me. I have found this useful over the years because it helps me know where I stand and what someone else likes or doesn’t like about my ideas and vision. I can read people pretty well. One great way to be able to read people is to ask questions and gage reactions. Look for a change in physiology, a shift in tone, a shift in eye contact, etc. These are all things I look for when interacting with others.That’s part of my secret ingredient, although I’m not claiming to be an expert, more like a student who is always learning and perfecting my craft.

You should have a sense for what you are good at and what you bring to the table and why others want to be around you. And don’t guess or assume.You know this by what others say about you. At one of my jobs it got to the point that I couldn’t get any work done in the office because co-workers would constantly come by my office and start conversations, and then another, and another. For the most part I really enjoyed the interaction and the conversations because they were light, humorous and invigorating. I knew what my secret ingredient was because I knew what others said about me (and said behind my back). It’s good to know the truth about what others say because it can help you be a better friend, co-worker, and person.Not saying that we buy into the negatives, hell no! but those parts that show what we bring that people want more of, so we can bring it again. It’s like Jeff Foxworthy. For a while we all wanted more redneck jokes because they were funny, so he did more. Thankfully he diversified after a while. But while it was hot, he milked it and got the most of it.

Whether it be your intellect, expertise, sense of humor, charisma, communication style, ability to listen, problem solving, or whatever your strength may be, be aware and bring it into what you are doing.

One word of caution! Like Jeff Foxworthy, if not done in good measure and balanced, it will become rote and boring, so use it in moderation and look for ways to expand and build upon the unique qualities you have to offer.Lastly, see yourself as that irreplaceable person that has a lot to contribute.

Ignite your passion!

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