The highlight of these events is usually the awards and the speeches. Most organisers go out of their way to invite high profile speakers, motivational speakers, past presidents of their organization and other distinguished dignitaries to, if I may borrow their word, "grace the occasion." Unfortunately, most of these dignitaries due to their long and uncoordinated speeches end up "dis"-gracing the occasion. Some of the speeches are not only boring, most of them are better than sleeping pills, I'll confess, I always find myself sleeping during the speeches and sometimes wonder if the reason I attend these events is to get some sleep.
Recently, I attended a dinner where a friend was being inducted as the president of a very prestigious club. Dressed in the usual black tie, I decided that no matter what happens, I'd avoid sleeping during any of the speeches and will, to the best of my ability, try to take home something from the dinner, even if it's a new word. Anything but sleep.
At the dinner, it was the usual pomp and fair but different faces. Everything was reading according to the script in my head, until the part where the guest speaker was about to speak. He started differently. He told everyone to walk around the room and introduce themselves to three strangers and tell them why they are a gift to the world.
Two problems immediately emerged for me, first, I was about to meet an interactive speaker and secondly, gift to the world? Me? How? It's challenging enough to introduce myself to three strangers in one night, let alone explain to them why I not only think, but know that I'm a gift to the world!
What gift do I have to consider myself a gift to the world? Who am I to even think that the world cares or bothers about me and this my so called gift? My first instinct was to sit down and let others do it while I watch, because honestly, I'm no Messi or Albert Einstein or Dangote. I don't have gifts, full stop, end of story.
As if he could read my mind, he stepped off the podium, walked straight to me and introduced himself and went ahead to tell me why he's a gift to the world.
In between that "earth please open and swallow me" and "ok I can do this" moment, I realized that what he was trying to make the diners in that room understand that we're all unique in our own way, and because most people do not know or believe that their uniqueness is a special gift to the world, they always hide like I was doing and almost never try to develop that unique talent.
Everyone is unique in this world; it is the thought and the belief in our head that hinders us from believing it. We judge ourselves according to certain imaginary standards, we sell ourselves short when the need to stand tall and take charge arises, we have this funny belief in our minds that we're not good enough; we are not pretty enough, we don't have the right weight, the right academic qualifications, the right financial statement, we don't stay in the right neighborhood or an alumni of a prestigious school.
Even though we are all the same as humans, there's only one you, unique and wonderfully made. And in you lies a talent that when recognised, worked on, pursued with passion and zeal, like a diamond under the earth's crust, survive the pressures of transformation without giving up - that is the gift you are giving to world.
Ask yourself; what is my gift to the world?