My niece, Emma, gave a TEDx talk last Sunday.

Giving a TEDx talk is an honor, especially for a college sophomore. But what I find most impressive isn’t the fact that she gave a TEDx talk—it’s that she applied to give one in the first place.

The fact that Emma’s talk was chosen wasn’t in her control. She maximized her chances by submitting an excellent proposal, yes, but she couldn’t directly control whether the selection committee chose her talk. Applying, though—that was all on her. She chose to set aside many hours to craft a compelling proposal with no assurance that her effort would pay off. She created something designed to benefit others—a gift—and then she put her ego on the line by submitting it for judgment.

Applying to give a TEDx talk exemplifies so many important attitudes: a willingness to take initiative, to sit down and do the work, to be vulnerable, to expose our work to the blinding light of public scrutiny, and most of all, to give an emotional and intellectual gift.

These attitudes aren’t easy to adopt, but they’re worth it. And we can adopt them at any time.