For many people, work is an onerous, often frustrating and even demeaning experience. It is something they do in order to enjoy the rest of their life. If you find that hard to believe, consider this: According to research, an astonishing 88% of all Americans daydream at work about quitting their job to do something else.
Why are so many people unhappy with their employment?
They are doing unNatural work. They have an inherent talent—every human being does—but they find themselves employed in a career that ignores or, worse, tramples on that capability.
I call this talent your Natural because it is as integral a part of who you are as your personality. It is an essential element of your individual definition. Of what makes you a unique and special person.
Your Natural is something you love to do and do well. The doing of it comes naturally to you—it is a ready-made talent—and excelling at it gives you an extraordinary sense of satisfaction—a feeling of fulfillment.
Your Natural is not a position title or an occupation. You do not work at your Natural as a senior project manager or a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian chief. You do so by engaging in an activity that is central to success in the performance of those roles.
For example, Lance Armstrong is a champion cyclist. His Natural, however, is not professional cycling. It is his talent for agility, endurance and stamina. He chose to apply his Natural to the sport of cycling, but he could have been just as successful and just as fulfilled in another occupation if excellence in that occupation depended on agility, endurance and stamina—his natural talent.
What does that mean for the rest of us in the world of work?
First, we are all super stars-in-waiting. Every single one of us has a Lance Armstrong, a Susan Boyle, a Sully Sullenberger inside us. We can realize that champion in our career—we can express and experience our ready-made talent on-the-job—but only if we are working in an occupation that requires our Natural to be successful.
Second, using our Natural is a key element of what makes us a unique person. The Human Genome Project proved that, as different as we may seem on the outside, we are only 3% different on the inside. Putting our Natural to work is one of the ways we achieve that 3% and establish ourselves as distinguishable and distinguished individuals.
Third, our Natural is a raw talent that needs nurturing. It’s up to us to discover it and to refine it. We must continuously stretch its capacity and our ability to apply it in our work. Captain Sullenberger didn’t perform a heroic feat of flying by simply climbing in the cockpit each day and going through the motions. He practiced regularly and rigorously to build up his ability to use his Natural to its fullest, and he needed every bit of that skill to land his place safely and achieve the “miracle on t he Hudson.”
Fourth, when we ignore your Natural at work, we waste our shot at becoming the person of our dreams. Almost nine out of ten Americans can imagine the superstar inside them, but for one reason or another, they fail to bring that person to work. Yet it’s our work, more than any other human endeavor, that provides the kind of challenges that can draw out the best we can be. It alone gives us a chance to experience the champion inside us.
And when we fail to take advantage of that opportunity—when we accept employment in an occupation or a job that does not put our Natural to work—it feels toxic. Because it is. Doing unNatural work prevents us from performing at our peak, and the resulting substandard performance harms us in two ways:
- It jeopardizes our employment. Doing anything less than our best work in today’s demanding workplace is a guaranteed seat on the fast train to early termination.
- It prevents us from feeling the profound sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing we have been tested in a fair way—one that challenges the best of ourselves—and measured up.
You will spend one third or more of your life on-the-job. Don’t sell that time short. Fill it with work that comes naturally to you so you can express and experience your personal champion.
Thanks for reading,
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