Your talents are not for you alone–they belong to the world.

I was loading my paintings into our truck to travel to my first art festival. My wife noticed that I had left a painting behind. She asked me why. I told her I didn’t like it. She suggested I take it, because “someone might like it.” I reluctantly put it in the truck. I sold a lot of paintings at that festival! Guess which painting sold first. That’s right—the one I had planned on leaving behind! It was a pastoral scene with a large meadow. The customer fell in love with it the moment he saw it, and remarked, “That reminds me of our family farm where I lived as a boy.”

On the way home, my wife teased me a bit—which I deserved. I learned a lesson all artists are destined to learn during their careers—that beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I felt disappointed in myself for having discounted the beauty of my creation—and underestimating the emotional impact it might have on a fellow being.

When I was a young man, a musician friend and I volunteered at a huge retirement home by performing a weekly musical program for the residents. We enjoyed hearing these seniors sing along and watching them “dance” by rolling their wheel chairs back and forth. However, we never truly understood the impact of our efforts until we arrived one day to perform and a nurse asked if she could talk with us before we started. What she said that day put our musical performances in a whole new light—and humbled me to the dust. “There are people in that room waiting for you to perform—the only reason they have to live from week to week is to see your smiling faces and hear your music. I just thought you ought to know that.”

My work as a life/career coach has shown me that every human being is filled with “greatness” when they are born into this world. For decades, it has been my honor and my joy to help people believe in, discover, accept, develop, and shine their personal greatness brightly into this world—thus becoming the highest vision of themselves. I have witnessed the metamorphosis of many people. I have also received many deeply touching compliments. I’ll never forget one man I worked with—big and tough. As he clasped my hand to thank me for my services, I noticed tears streaming down his cheeks. Then, he said, “I want to thank you for transforming my life.” Wow, talk about being “paid” for my services…

One of my personal heroes, polymath Albert Schweitzer, left a life of privilege in Europe to serve the people in French Equatorial Africa (Gabon) as a physician. Most of those he served could only pay him with their sincere gratitude and a hug. That was “pay” enough for him. He performed organ concerts throughout Europe to finance his hospital. Mr. Schweitzer once said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

The greatest joy that can be derived from our individual talents comes from sharing them with others.