Is special sauce really that special? Fry Sauce, Big Mac© sauce, In-N-Out sauce….not really that different or special at all. When you look at the label you’ll see some mix of ketchup, mayo, some pickles or pickle brine, salt but not really different in the grand scale of sauces. Are special sauces good? You’re damn right. But special? Not so much.
And does one special sauce work for everything? No. I don’t want fry sauce on my pizza. We need a mix of sauces to fit the situation. Diversity is good. The same combination of the same ingredients can be stale and variety is the spice of life.
Tangent: I’ve explored a lot of career opportunities in my time. Always exploring through the act of actively being in a career and almost always connected to serving others. Sometimes literally as in serving seafood back as a wee boy, sometimes serving through education and oftentimes serving through non-profits where the mission drives service.
For the longest time my service was connected to a label I put on myself “Environmental Non-Profit Anthony” and I both enjoyed the label. The label created identity. Humans like labels, we like tribes of people like us. We find a sense of belonging in tribes labels can help define us. Tribal thinking and labels can also limit us.
As “Environmental Non-Profit Anthony” I saw only opportunities to serve aligned with my label. And I slowly started finding a path within my label allowing me to hone in on what was exciting and interesting and aligned with gifts and strengths. Over time I figured out what I was both not good at and not energized by and so I found niches allowing for better service. Niches but not riches because ya’ know, non-profits don’t pay their people.
Some niches I explored included Executive level positions where creating partnerships a focus on bigger pictures were a better fit. And fundraising for a zoo was a partial shedding of the label but allowed me to tap into communication skills and relationship building.
And then the big left turn. Some seriously good discomfort: working for Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii as a fundraiser for “kids who need us most”. Through this role still attached to the non-profit label.
And then hard-stop.
I left non-profits employment all together.
And I briefly lost my definition of myself.
And that allowed for me to shed some labels that no longer served me.
Since then I’ve replaced the label of “Environmental Non-profit Anthony” with “professional speaker” and “workplace culture guru” and “coach.”
It took time and I continued to invest in myself. Non-profits also don’t invest in their people.
I now understand my leadership traits. I understand my character strengths. I understand the uniqueness and complexity of what makes me happy and what blocks my path to greater happiness and greater service. Leaps forward in “me getting me.”
Now I engage in non-profit work in a different and higher level in ways that lights me up without the shackles we’ve put on non-profit employees. [Mini-Tangent] Ask Mr. Dan Pallotta how he feels about shackling non-profits.
Full-Circle: I’ve done a lot to get to this point of “getting” myself and crafting a new label without previous limitations. It took soul searching. It required finding the right tools and connecting to the right people.
I also needed to keep believing in what I kept hearing about me and eventually figuring out the special sauce of me.
Now, I intentionally put forth the best version of me into daily life as much as possible. My work. My community. My family and friends.
Less suffering. More moments of joy. The best in me has been called forth in service to others.
I want this for you and your teams. I want to be a shortcut for others instead of taking the longer road of self-discovery I travelled.
I’m here to offer myself in support you and your team on a path to better understanding, better communication, authentic leadership, more trust and more happiness. And to both spark this quickly and to help maintain the shifts forward over the long-term.
Take the time to explore your own labels. Explore the ingredients in your special sauce and make sure you recognize what separates your ingredients from the other recipes. Once you do that people will crave your unique contribution to spicing things up. 😊
Anthony Poponi is a Corporate Trainer, Coach, Motivational Speaker and author of “Focus on the 40” specializing in improving team dynamics, communication and productivity for teams and individuals. His work is based on the research in the fields neuroplasticity, positive psychology, and leadership to focus on a flourishing life.