The Sixth Suitcase
Life is always moving. As days turn into weeks and weeks into years, the journey continues for us all in one direction or another. Each traveler has in his possession these suitcases for the trip:
• The Work Suitcase, or our achievements
• The School Suitcase, or our education and training
• The Personality Suitcase, or our temperament
• The Interests Suitcase, or our tastes and hobbies
• The Values Suitcase, or our character
There is a sixth suitcase, however, that is crucial to effective use of the first five. “When you don’t understand what’s in your sixth suitcase,” John Bradley writes in Discovering Your Natural Talents, “you will almost certainly step into the trap of establishing your ambitions based only on your first five suitcases.” (Bradley and Carty, 1991, page 32) As important as excelling at work and school and understanding one’s values and personality are, without unlocking our sixth suitcase, all those pursuits will end in frustration.
Our sixth suitcase contains the natural gifts and talents we were born with. It is the unique mix of innate strengths each of us possesses that allows us to excel at certain activities. It is the unique ability of the paramedic who, when most people panic at the sound of sirens and the sight of blood, controls the crisis with amazing calm and provides critical care like the whole thing is happening in slow motion. It is the artist who hears the sounds of a musical work—melody, harmony, and rhythm—perfectly ...

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