According to Gallup, only 20% of U.S. workers think that their current job uses their talents. I’m sure many people, on hearing this, would think, “How sad! Those people are settling for jobs where they’re not happy. They should go find their dream jobs!”
Certainly, some of those people probably are settling and should seek a career where they’ll be happier. However, as someone who works for a very strengths-focused organization, I can tell you that you’re more in control of your own talents than you probably think.
Of course, we at Purple Ink are big advocates for leaving a career that isn’t a good fit for you. There’s no reason to stay somewhere that you’re miserable when you could be JoyPowered! However, if your biggest problem with your job is that you’re not using your talents, make it your own responsibility to fix that. It’s not about trying to fit tasks to your strengths. It’s about approaching your tasks with your strengths in mind.
I use all five of my strengths in my job as Marketing Manager here at Purple Ink. For example, Achiever leads me to make to-do lists and gives me a burst of energy every time I cross something off; Learner means that when I don’t know how to do something, I’ll do research to try and figure out how to do it and what the best practices are before giving up.
The reason I’m using my talents is not because I found a mythical perfect job that is completely aligned with each of my strengths. I’ve simply been taught that using your strengths is an intentional process that you should apply to everything, not something that happens automatically.
When you feel like you’re doing something that isn’t suited to your talents, think harder about what talent you might be able to apply to the situation. You may not have strong Discipline skills, but will something else help you focus diligently on the task at hand? Maybe you don’t have Strategic, but could you plan ahead by exercising a different strength?
I don’t have Command, Communication, or even anything in the relationship building or influencing strength domains in my top 5, and if you’ve been following my blogs for a while, you probably know I’m an introvert. Obviously, I still need to communicate with other people sometimes. That doesn’t mean I’m not using my talents, though! When I need to get someone else’s input to get a task done, I’m approaching the conversation with an Achiever mindset. If I don’t know how to do something and I can’t find the answer myself, I’m asking questions as a Learner.
You don’t have to take StrengthsFinder to be able to do this – although it would help! Think about what you’re good at and what gives you energy when you’re working. Then use those characteristics to approach your work.
Next time you’re at work and thinking, “I’m not using my talents today,” stop to think if you can do anything about it. Instead of waiting for someone to give you tasks that align with your talents or looking for the flawless job that probably doesn’t exist, intentionally approach your work with your talents in mind.