Privilege, Gratitude and Your Greatest Gifts


Last week, I was on a burnout prevention and boundary setting panel and received an unexpected question, perfect timing for the beginning of the holiday season. A young woman raised her hand and asked the group, "How do you handle the guilt of privilege, and only being able to help privileged people in your work?" (i.e. underserved populations are in much greater need but can't afford the help).

The short answer is to really feel like you are making an impact in a meaningful, authentic way, or are on your journey to this place.

The long answer made me reflect on how you can actually make that happen...

I immediately thought back to the days of sitting at my desk in corporate America, working on spreadsheets, feeling a sense of guilt related to my privilege. I grew up with many opportunities as a kid, went to a 4 year college, earned a business degree, worked at a fortune 500 company with some of the best training programs available to employees. I had skills and gifts - skills and gifts that were transferable to MANY different roles; roles where I could be helping people in a way that was more in alignment with my values. And for a long time, I felt paralyzed by this guilt and also questioned whether my gifts were actually needed in other areas. Would they be accepted?

Another woman on the panel, Qiana, shared an awesome insight that I realize in hindsight is what jumpstarted my journey,

"Remember that guilt is a choice," she said. 

In other words, we can sit with the paralyzing guilt of our privilege and do nothing, or we can lead from a place of purpose and gratitude and start getting curious about what we can do with our privilege, no matter who receives it. 

Try these steps to start taking action:

  1. Show gratitude for what you do have. Reflect on what your ancestors did to help you get to this place of privilege.
  2. Identify your greatest skills, gifts, strengths and core values.
  3. Get clear on who you'd like to benefit from your gifts, just to start. What population is most accessible to you?
  4. Dream of what starting could mean in the future for the way you shape your life and the way you impact the lives of others.
  5. Write down your fears. Are they reality? Or just fear? Most likely, they are fear. Don't let that fear stop you. 
  6. Get STARTED! Can you write/blog? Volunteer? Help friends? Donate money? Be of public service? Whatever you do is progress. 

The reality of the young woman's question is, we all have to start somewhere, and we have to continue paying the bills (unless we want to move in with Mom and Dad). But we can take small steps to volunteer, start a side hustle, donate money, services, time etc... Or if we're ready, we can take big steps to build something new!

The important thing is that we get clear on our gifts, our vision, how we want to show up in the world, and start living it! Step by step. 

Lots of love to you this holiday season. 

Need help getting clear on your gifts, vision, values, strengths, and re-aligning your career/life decisions with what's most important? Schedule a complimentary clarity session with me. 

Liz TrainesComment