What Were You Born to Do? — Abby Off the Record

What Were You Born to Do?

by Abby on July 6, 2011

In case you missed it, I made an unsolicited vow to come up with some ideas for better programming on Oprah’s OWN network. Here’s my first idea:

Olympic swimmer Michael PhelpsOne day last year while I was watching my son’s swimming lesson, Michael Phelps walked past me in a Speedo. In case you don’t know, Phelps was the then-23yo American swimmer who won 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He’s from Baltimore and owns the biggest swim school in town, so it’s not that extraordinary to see him around now and then. But even if you didn’t know who he was, you can’t help but look at him and think, “Wow! That guy was born to swim.”

First of all, his wingspan is 3 inches longer than his 6’4” height. He has an unusually long torso and short legs, and not an ounce of fat on him. Numerous experts have speculated that his physical build gives him an edge over other swimmers. But the part that interests me most is that he came to swimming almost by accident. His mom signed him up for his older sisters’ sport to give her hyperactive son something to do. Can you imagine if she’d signed him up for fencing instead?!

So here’s the idea: This show, “Born With It,” would feature someone who’s excelling in their field thanks in part to their natural gifts. Whether it’s cooking, playing piano, doing yoga – whatever it is, they’re at the top of their game and it’s largely because early on they tapped into their natural ability to identify flavors, play any tune they heard, touch their knee to their ear, whatever. And here’s the twist: this expert is paired with a regular person who’s just starting to identify their unique attribute and wondering how to develop it and what to do with it.

Just the other day my husband was wondering what he could do with his freakish gift for remembering faces. (It’s true; the man can’t remember to bring home milk, but he CAN remember that the lady at the pool with the twins used to bartend at some random pub in our old neighborhood 10 years ago.) So on this show, he might be paired with a top detective who’s cracking tough missing-persons cases based on her ability to recognize people she’s only seen once.

The possibilities are endless. We all know people who were born to be football players (like my tough toddler, maybe), teachers (like your bossy older sister?), or artists (have you SEEN my older son’s drawings?). And we all know people who struggle to identify their natural gifts. Maybe even some of you.

As for me, I think the ability to combine a sighting of Speedo-clad sports star, my husband’s random quirk, and my love of TV and Oprah under a central theme means I was clearly born to be a writer. Don’t you?! (Humor me, please.)

So what were YOU born to do?

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