Working to your strengths is not a new idea; it’s been a conversation in the business world for 20-30 years. However, since business tends to give a bigger piece of the pie to people on the sales side, or in leadership roles – if your innate talents aren’t a good match for those roles, you might discount them like I did. The truth? All roles are needed, and those at “the top” couldn’t do their work as well without those in the supporting roles. Without the people who provide the infrastructure, ongoing fulfillment would be impossible and eventually the business will fail. Just ask Robert Kiyosaki, famous for his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. He was so successful selling Velcro wallets to surfers that sales exceeded the company’s ability to produce, and it eventually failed. (Before You Quit Your Job, 2005)
When I was in my 20’s I held a few office jobs in basic administrative support functions. Computers were just coming into the workplace, and I discovered an innate ability to learn software programs, like Lotus 123 (anyone remember that?) in very little time. And it was fun! Unfortunately, I eventually rejected that which came fairly easily to me because the common “wisdom” said that to succeed and get ahead, one must get into management. Being “only” an administrative assistant was not a worthwhile career objective, especially not for a college graduate from U.C. Berkeley! Starting at 26 years old, I made it my mission to “make more of myself.” In no way am I saying that I regret any of the career directions I took, only that it’s too bad I rejected my own skills, deeming them boring and insignificant.
Working with another business owner these past 2 years gave me an opportunity to reclaim that which I rejected. He was one of 2 people in my entire career to fully recognize their value, and outwardly appreciate them. It helped ME see my skills as both worthwhile and absolutely useful to others. For sure, I bring my years of business and marketing experience to the work we do, but it’s the resurrection of my organization and administrative skills that has been most intriguing.
Work to Your Strengths, Reduce Resistance
Lately, I’ve become aware of something else. It doesn’t matter if I am working on a PowerPoint presentation, editing a video or managing the infrastructure for our online teaching platform, it is not only fun but it is often EASY. Even the learning curve has been fun, and only rarely frustrating. It’s the ease that got my attention though. Doing these things is like breathing for me. I enjoy myself, and I move through some of these tasks so quickly that if I were outside looking in, even I would be in awe!
I don’t work hard, I don’t even work smart. I’m just working inside my wheelhouse. No resistance! This latest realization led me to wonder about the intersection between productivity and personal capacity. I wonder what the world would be like if most of our working life was filled with ease instead of stress and striving. What if everyone spent most of their time doing work that is as “natural as breathing” for them? How would that impact health? How would that impact productivity? Call me optimistic, but I see this ideal as a powerful opportunity.
These are the kinds of things you must grapple with when seeking to understand your “place” in the business world. Do you reject that which comes naturally and easily because it’s not as prestigious, well compensated, etc., or do you embrace your gifts and empower their development? Furthermore, how do you deal with the judgments of others, some of whom might see you as lacking ambition if you’re not doing your best to get ahead, make more money, make something more of yourself?
This is where you must become your own champion. You must become good with you. When you do, people and opportunities will likely fall into place. Your health, sense of ease, things like that? Yeah, they just might too. As I said in the beginning, I don’t regret my career choices. All have contributed to my ongoing growth and development. Ultimately, that’s all we have, choices, one at a time. Perhaps you can use my experience as a cautionary tale. As you contemplate success on this material plane, why not include capacity and EASE? Allow your inner artisan to flourish (even if she’s an organizing admin geek like me), and see what happens. We are here to assist.