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Trash to Treasure—What’s the Value of the “Junk” in Your Mental Attic?

When I was a kid, I thought the big boxes in the attic and basement were “junk.”

After all, no one ever opened any of them or did anything with them. They weren’t fun like Christmas decorations or useful like school supplies or enjoyable, like books.  The boxes had been in the basement before I was born, and they were still there, almost half a century later, when we cleaned out the house a few years ago after my mother died and my father went into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s.

Maybe it was all the childhood warnings that the boxes were “Important”, or maybe a vague idea that they represented a critical point in my parents’ lives, but with a little repacking, the mysterious boxes went to a storage unit.  I knew they were something my father wouldn’t want to part with in his lifetime, but I had no clue as to whether anyone else would find them as fascinating as he did.

When dad passed away at the end of March, everything needed to be appraised. That meant unpacking all the boxes in storage so the contents could be inventoried, photographed and their value identified.

That was when I truly realized the value of the “stuff” in the boxes.

You see, when my father and mother were first married, they went “Out West” to North Dakota.  Dad, a city kid from Reading, PA, always loved Native American culture since his childhood listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio.  As a newly-minted doctor, he seized the opportunity to go serve at Fort Yates on the Standing Rock reservation.

But his real passion was meeting the Native Americans who remembered the old ways, people in their 80s and 90s who had survived the Custer battle, who had seen Sitting Bull, who knew what life was like before the reservations.  He even learned to speak Sioux.

During the day, mom taught school and dad dealt with everything from delivering babies to tuberculosis to gunshot wounds at the hospital.  But evenings and weekends, they got to know the elders, participated in the traditions and celebrations, and captured the stories of history’s witnesses on paper, audiotape and 8 mm film.  On July 29, 1950, mom and dad were adopted into the Sioux tribe.  It was a life-long dream come true.

As they got to know their neighbors, mom and dad preserved pieces of that history—pottery, textiles, beaded clothing, moccasins….things many people at the time considered to be of little value.

Guess what was in the boxes?  A time-capsule of Native American history.  Dad’s collection is being curated by Freeman’s Auction House in Philadelphia for a sale later this year, and in the meantime, part of the collection is heading to a noted Western museum to be part of an exhibit.  Needless to say, it turned out to be a lot more valuable than I ever dreamed as a kid.

What does this have to do with your business?  Plenty.  Because I believe we all have valuable “junk” in our mental attics and basement that we haven’t put to good use.

What do you know that could be earning you money, but you haven’t used it because you don’t recognized its value?

What expertise do you have that you haven’t offered to the world because you (mistakenly) believe that if you know something, “everyone” knows it? (They don’t!)

Take a moment now to make a list of what you’re good at, what comes naturally, or what you have a knack for doing.  Take a good, hard look at the list.

Where are the hidden gems, the treasures you could be using to create teleseminars, webinars, live events, info-products, and other useful materials that help others AND boost your income?  (If you have difficulty seeing the jewels in the “junk” on your list, do this exercise with a friend and swap lists.)

We’re often too close to our knowledge and expertise to realize that what is “common sense” to us isn’t common at all.  It’s not just about what you know; it’s about your unique perspective that has been forged by the road you’ve traveled.  No one else can share that information in exactly the same way, no matter how many other people are out there talking about the topic.

And trust me, there are people who need what you have to offer who just haven’t been able to “connect” with the message of other experts.  These people—your “tribe”–will light up with a breakthrough because you speak their language like no one else.

So take a good look at the “junk” in your mental attic and make up your mind to turn your trash into treasure!

Want to continue the conversation and share your thoughts and questions? Connect with me on Twitter @GailMartinPR!

Gail Z. Martin owns DreamSpinner Communications and helps companies and solo professionals in the U.S. and Canada improve their marketing results in 30 days. Gail has an MBA in marketing and over 20 years of corporate and non-profit experience at senior executive levels. Gail hosts the Shared Dreams Marketing Podcast. She’s the author of 30 Days to Social Media Success and The Thrifty Author’s Guide to Launching Your Book. Find her online at www.GailMartinMarketing.com, on Twitter @GailMartinPR and check out her Facebook page at 30 Day Results Guide.

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