I remember talking to a lady I know who’d just gotten a promotion. Fantastic! I said, I love hearing about people growing and thriving and succeeding in their lives. As I congratulated her, I saw some apprehension in her face, and I made a huge assumption that it was the normal mild panic we all get when we jump into an unknown role.
‘Am I up to it? What if I fail? What made me think I could do this?’ You know the stuff I mean.
I’ve felt that panic, I’m sure you have too. Her news took me back to a time I had been promoted and I remembered all the doubts that flooded my mind even as I celebrated the promotion.
“What’s the face?” I asked, thinking she’d confirm my thinking.
But, the old adage about assume holds true!
‘Well’, she said, ‘I’m in the training department, but the promotion transfers me to the IT department.’
Yikes! I immediately felt her pain, because I knew she loved training people, but I also knew she didn’t love IT!
This was a couple of years ago and she’s still in the IT department even though she’s not happy in her work. The thing is, she’s just not unhappy enough to move.
At the time of that initial conversation all I felt was sympathy for her but now I understand that working is not just about doing a job you enjoy, it’s also about using the talents that you have.
Let me break that down because I believe this is really important and it’s something we often get wrong and that ends up making us unhappy.
There are some people who love imagining things and bringing them to life, it may be the concept of a house or a cabinet or a dress or a model aircraft. Whatever it is, they are really happy working away on their own with their creation to bring from imagination to reality.
There are other people that are more comfortable interacting with other people, maybe a nurse who cares for the sick or a shop assistant who helps people make decisions about what they want to buy.
There are people who work in suits, in a clean office environment giving advice about finance or architecture while others like getting their hands dirty under the hood of a car or working on the land.
With different jobs comes different fits for our natural talents, and it’s this fit that makes you much better at some things than others. And we usually like the things we fit well
with too. Which makes sense, when we’re good at something we do it more and we get better at it and the better we get at it, the more we like it.
There are plenty of ‘tests’ created like Myers Briggs or Honey and Mumford to help you identify your talents as well as your natural inclinations but the one I use more often is from the work of Ned Herman.
Ned Herman looked at the right brain as the creative side of the brain and the left as the logical side, but he went a bit further than that, discovering that the right side was also where our emotions were triggered and the left where our organisation lay.
Although we all (allegedly!) use all of our brains, we feel naturally more comfortable in one area, and that would be where our talent lies.
Here is what I found particularly interesting,
- It can be really interesting to understand the areas that I am naturally good at and compare them to the areas where I am not. The realisation that we all excel in different areas and are not all the same was a huge revelation to me at the time.
- I can develop my talents and excel rather than struggle to improve the things I am not naturally good at and never will be, which is unfortunately normally the focus of these tests, to improve our ‘weaknesses’.
- I can find a partner whose talents are different from mine and we can excel together.
- I can build a robust team instead of surrounding myself with people like me
- I can value the different thoughts, opinions and talents of the team I have created.
So, to return to my poor friend, although she was pleased to have been selected for promotion, she struggled with her new area of work and then with her progression in that field because it wasn’t a good fit for her talents and ability. Her natural talent lay in her right brain, she was happy with the emotional aspect of developing and supporting people and her job now required more of a left brain skill, with programming machines and largely working alone.
This sadly is the story of many people in certain areas of their business. We start a business because we are good at something and seek independence however we may struggle with the creativity required for marketing or the discipline of finalising our accounts each month.
As the business grows we can match the roles we don’t like to do with people who do have the talents for those areas, evolving the process until everyone is happy doing their part that fits in with the whole, everyone advancing in the thing they are good at and all working as a team together. That’s when we see the business begin to fly.
I urge you to discover your own talents and see how much fun it can be when you’re doing the work you love, surrounded with people who like doing the things that you don’t really want to do, everyone working to realise the vision of the business. That’s when work becomes a joy, business is a pleasure and success seems to come without effort.
Doesn’t that sound like something worth exploring? Want to know more about how to set your business and your people up for success and real work satisfaction? Get in touch and I’d love to tell you more.