What is your natural gift set? Are you owning it?


Specifically, what are your natural gifts you bring to your career and life?

I find that a lot of my clients struggle when I ask them what their gifts are.

There is often an uncomfortable silence. Or an apologetic, “I’m not really sure.”

It’s important to know your gifts, own them fully, and be able to articulate them to others.

It’s important to know your unique gifts because then –

– You’re more able to use them in your career.

– Your career is more likely to be fulfilling and sustainable.

– You tend to grow and expand naturally in your professional role.  It’s easier to “sell” yourself to others in a totally non-salesy way when you own your gifts.

This week I was asking two of my female physician clients about their gifts – which they have in abundance. Both of them were uncomfortable with the conversation at first. It’s as if there is this unwritten law that if we say good things about ourselves we are being arrogant or egotistical.

It’s as if this neon light is going to pop up above your head that says, “Bragger!” or “Horn Tooter!”

It can also be difficult to identify your gifts because we often take for granted what comes naturally to us. You may not even think what you have are gifts because they are just part of who you are. You think these things come easily to others as well.

Not necessarily true.

Downplaying or taking your gifts for granted is common.  And it doesn’t serve anyone.

We all can easily identify gifts such as a beautiful singing voice, artistic talent, or techie ability. But we often don’t think of having a constellation of traits and skills that make up what I am calling a “gift set.”

You know these gifts sets, you might have even gotten one for a Christmas or holiday present –

Perfume, that also comes with body lotion, creams, and a travel case.

A BBQ grilling set with oversized utensils, oven mitts, some spice rubs, and a mesquite plank.

After speaking with my clients this week, it struck me that what we are bringing to our career is often not an isolated gift, but a “gift set.”

I like to think of your gift set as a combination of specific personality traits, skills, and how you interact with others.

Identifying one or more of your gift sets helps you find a job and career that capitalizes on these gifts and also helps you own these gifts more fully.

Here is one example of a gift set –

You are able to be very calm under pressure – even if you don’t feel this way inside – you bring a level head to an emergency or tense situation. You can look at disparate pieces of information and make decisions quickly, in spite of the chaos around you.

You have an intuitive sense of what needs to be done, even if all the data points don’t add up or others have differing opinions. Those around you trust you because you have a quiet confidence and quickly establish rapport with a wide variety of people.

Here is another gift set –

You have a knack for troubleshooting the EMR and computers. People come to you for help. These problems are fun puzzles for you to solve. You’re like a pinball wizard of tech. Even though things are obvious to you, you explain things to others in a way they understand and don’t feel judged or stupid.

Besides being good at the details and troubleshooting, your mind sees how systems work on the macro level and have a passion for improving overall workflow in creative and innovate ways. You see with a lens that can zoom in and out of an entire system, seeing the problems and the possibilities.

Here’s one more gift set –

You have a strong desire to help the underserved population. This feels like a mission or a calling. You’ve had some tough times yourself and have a heart for helping those who are marginalized.

You have a creative side that allows you to think outside the box, but you are also very practical and analytic. You’re not simply a bleeding-heart do-gooder. You are good at problem-solving and you want to create lasting change that makes a difference.  People listen to your ideas and want to support you because of your passion that is grounded in understanding and research.

These are skill sets that can be used in both clinical and nonclinical careers.

If you don’t see any of yourself in these three examples don’t worry. There are endless combinations. Your gift set is going to be unique to you.

A great place to start on identifying and owning your own gift set(s) – is your Enneagram personality type.

I wrote a blog about the natural gifts for each Enneagram personality type. You can read it here.

If you’d like to take the Enneagram test you can do so here.

The next step to identifying your gift set is to write down the skills that you enjoy using, where you feel like you are in flow. Clues to these skills will also be the things that people come to you for, what you do that no one pays you for, etc.

The last step is to think about is who or what you are interacting with when you are using these skills. Is it with people one – to – one? Is it in groups? Or it less about people and more about interacting with ideas, computers, data, or numbers?

You are not limited to one gift set either! We may have a gift set that we use more with our family, or as a hobby, and it has nothing to do with our work. Maybe it has something to do with baking, designing, fixing things or hosting cool parties.

Don’t rule out a gift set that you use solely in your personal life becoming a way you make money or have a career!

With the New Year coming, it’s a great time to make sure your gifts are not left under the tree or put away in the closet. Open them, dust them off, know them, honor them.

If you are having trouble identifying your gift sets, ask those who know you, they will likely be obvious to them. You might be surprised by their responses.

I hope you are having a lovely time with family and friends during this holiday and that 2020 will bring you many wonderful experiences and opportunities.

Thank you for all of your support and engagement in The Doctor’s Crossing community this year.  You make a big difference and I’m exceeding grateful for your presence.

It is a gift for me to be able to make sure all of your gifts are opened and shared in a way that is true to you and brings you joy.

All my best,


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Tim O

The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

- Tim Owolabi, MD

Family Medicine
Lynette Charity

“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

- Lynette Charity, MD

Gail Miller

“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

- Gail Miller, MD

OB/Gyn physician

“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my passions...by doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth...

Today...my wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

- Steve Lapke, MD

Papillion, NE
Sue Zimmermann

“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

- Devki Patel, MD

Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon

“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine