What One Thing?

Heart split open. Tears in my eyes. Shivers on my skin.

I went to Patty Griffin‘s concert in Berkeley.

This is what she does to me.

It is, in part, her voice, her songs.

It is, perhaps more so, watching another person share the deepest part of themselves. Watching someone share their soul. And seeing, recognizing that essence and beauty, knowing the same essence lives in me. When someone bares themselves with such honesty—no filters, no camouflage—it inspires me to do the same.


As part of my web/marketing/branding borderline obsession research, I ordered The Unconventional Guide to Social Media by Chris Guillebeau and Gwen Bell. One of the Microactions Gwen offers is: Identify what one thing do you do better than anyone else. She suggests asking a friend what they think it is.

Tami Hackbarth, It’s All Yoga evangelist and secret marketing genius, came over so we could work through the Guide together.

At this prompt, I answered that I think my thing (related to teaching yoga) is my ability to weave poetry and theme into a class. To make the class about more than the poses.

As my 3rd-party responder, Tami offered her answer: that I get people to trust me and themselves so much that they are willing to try things they otherwise wouldn’t.

For all the times and ways I am cruel to myself about my teaching, it was so wonderful to shine light on the positive. To actually say, I think I’m good at this.

This is hard to do.

It is also incredibly scary to share those innermost places and bare it all without the protection of I’m not really that good or Other people do it way better.

What a crime it would be if Patty didn’t sing because she was too afraid of being seen. Or if she saved her soul from her songs instead of giving every last ounce of herself.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?‘ Actually, who are you not to be?

~Marianne Williamson


Now. Rather than closing this page and moving on, what if you took a moment to consider what you’re good at? (“Nothing” is an incorrect answer!) What’s your secret talent? What one thing do you do better than anyone else? Maybe related to your work, maybe as a parent, maybe as a friend or gardener. There is something. Heck, there are probably 23 things.

And what if you left a comment acknowledging that thing?

And what if you found a way to accentuate it more in your life?

Because when you do, it inspires other people to do the same.

16 Responses to “What One Thing?”

  1. 1 janeen April 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    This is an amazing post! I don’t know Tami but she is spot on. And let me add something else: you make people feel like they are part of a warm embrace that just keeps going and going and going. It’s what I’ve always loved about you from the moment I met you. I felt incredibly nurtured by your warmth even when you tortured me with your Yoga Fit ways at HH!! Did I just blow your cover by mentioning that?

    As for me, I am incredibly diplomatic. Nice to no end. To absolutely everyone I meet except for my mother.

    Thank you for having the courageous to write this today. I am feeling your warmth even in a virtual sense and am going to go add some (more) Patty to my playlists right now.

    XO! See you tonight. I think. If I don’t miss the recess bell. :-)

    • 2 blogasana April 7, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      ahhh.. thanks janeen. ha!! yoga fit… ya, that’s one i don’t share too often =) you ARE nice to no end, in the best way ever. and so so kind. and the best trip planner i know!!

  2. 3 elizabeth April 7, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I agree with Tami. I would trust you unconditionally, and I haven’t even taken a class with you.

    I suspect it is that I make people feel safe enough that they are able to be vulnerable with me. Wow. That was hard to type. It made me teary. Must ponder that.

    • 4 blogasana April 7, 2010 at 11:35 pm

      mmm… wow, elizabeth. thank you for clicking “post.” i love that writing by marianne williamson so much – i think it’s so true that it’s easier to talk (bitch) about our darkness… and so hard/vulnerable to acknowledge our light. i am inspired by you doing so!! xoxo

  3. 5 Tami April 7, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Yes! The secret is out now. Absolutely brilliant!

    My thing? I’m really good at small talk and making people feel welcome. I think it’s because I remember the name and face of every.single.person. I’ve EVER met and I’m honestly interested in other people. I like asking questions and listening to their responses. As it turns, out people LOVE telling me stuff.

    I’m also really good at not telling secrets. Another reason to tell me stuff.

    PS – please make me a mix of all your favorite patty songs so i can sing along too. *including the titles and album names (!)

    • 6 blogasana April 7, 2010 at 11:37 pm

      you are good at so much, it’s hard to narrow it down!!! you’re the best evangelist ever =)

      ok, will make patty compilation.

  4. 7 JennaFrancisco April 8, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I love love love this post. Michelle, you are the best at both things you mentioned. Every time I go to your class, it sits with me for a few days. The themes in your classes find a way of touching me and my life!
    You are also a DAMNED GOOD writer.
    Your post has me thinking about myself, too. I’m thinking, and when I figure out what my thing is, I’ll get back to you. :-)
    btw, I remember that quote from Marianne Williamson from a previous time with you. I loved it then and love it more now. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 9 Leili April 8, 2010 at 5:22 am

    What a wonderful post. And in sharing this, you give more to others.

    I’m good at making connections. I build relationships quickly with other people, but I’m also good at connecting people to *other* people or resources. I think I’m adaptable; I can feel at home anywhere, and feel that I’ve known someone for years even if it’s all new. I’m very good at receiving angry customers/clients and turning the situation around so that they leave me happy or satisfied. Dealing with difficult people is not difficult in itself for me.

    This idea will definitely stay with me: “What a crime it would be if Patty didn’t sing because she was too afraid of being seen. Or if she saved her soul from her songs instead of giving every last ounce of herself.”

    Thank you.

    • 10 blogasana April 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm

      nice, leili!! what great qualities, and so wonderful that since you know them, you can enhance them more easily! i really see how you offer these things at the studio, even in the few minutes before and after classes. (not that we have any difficult… just in making people feel comfortable.) thank YOU!

  6. 11 Kelley M. April 12, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Michelle you are so very good at opening your heart and soul to those around you. It’s an openness that comes through in your voice, in your poetry and teachings, in your yoga, in your touch (corrective or not) and in your writing. It made me feel so very welcome and at home that I immediately fell in love with you. Well, you know what I mean…not in the “weird” way. Tee hee.

    I think I’m good at achieving. I will push myself and those around me to achieve any goal we set out to reach. I will not let anything get in my way (within sane limits) and I will not let those around me fail. It comes across in all sorts of ways from hitting the end of the trail when hiking to paying down debt to helping to get a friend from divorce to happiness again. It’s my mission to follow through because I want to and because I made a promise. No back of the class, lazy, do-it-later procrastinating from me. Yes, I do see a negative to this but that’s not what you asked right?

    Incidentally, when I asked my family the question of what I was best at I got the following answers:

    Julia-“Mom you are the best at cleaning.” This is a good example of getting the job done and/or OCD. Both? No sure what to make of this one.

    Tony-“You are good at making lists and staying on top of things.” I said back, “that’s what you would put on my tombstone? Great…anything more meaningful?” Then he said, “yeah, you laugh at yourself and find humor in so much. It creates a really nice open space where we can all be happy.” That’s better.

    • 12 blogasana April 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

      What’s lovely about this is you got a nice array of things… clearly you have a wide reach =)

      I love that you asked the fam. How wonderful to focus on the positives of each other. If you’d asked me, I’d say that you have the most contagious enthusiasm and smile. And a wicked sense of humor :-)

  7. 13 JennaFrancisco April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    After thinking about it this week, I’ve decided that my “thing” is that I’m good at my job. I wanted to think of something more “interesting,” something related to one of my dreamy non-work interests, but in the end, I kept realizing that my work is really the one thing that stands out as something I do really well. And I suppose that’s a good thing since work is an important and necessary part of our lives! Since you are a teacher, too, I know you understand– teaching involves many things (organization, connection, accessibility, trust, and mastery of the subject matter).
    Again, thanks for sharing. I love this post and think everyone should read it. (And I have a yoga fit secret, too.)

    • 14 blogasana April 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

      oh, this is beautiful jenna! and how many people get to say about their jobs that they have passion and commitment *and* skill at them?! i love that you gave this some time and in the end, trusted what kept coming up. (pinkie swear on yoga fit) ;-)

      • 15 Jenna March 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm

        I was thinking about this wonderful post again after reading this: http://raamdev.com/love-and-purpose
        and I realized that after having a lot of time at home, away from work and not missing it much, that I need to reevaluate my “one thing.” I’ve given it some thought and nothing has really come to me, which makes me kind of sad. It seems natural that what seems like your one thing can change with life’s changes, but I think once you tap into your real self, your one thing is something constant.

  1. 1 The In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 3 « Teachergoesbacktoschool's Blog Trackback on April 14, 2010 at 1:24 pm

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