By Terry Carter, Editor
When you were a child, what inspired and powered you each day? Why did you fly out of bed each morning?
A) Filled with energy 24 hours a day, always chasing the next game, party or thrilling ride because of the fun? If so, you may have played sports or joined dance, band/orchestra or theater classes as soon as possible.
B) The curious one who liked to read, study, get ahead of homework and evaluate opportunities/situations? If so, you were a strong student and enjoyed learning new hobbies, skills.
C) Did you join the events already organized or started by family and friends and let others show the way? If so, you may also have been the peacemaker in your family. You were the glue for your family.
D) Or did you play leader of the pack as a child with all of your friends trying to keep up with you and the trends you established? If this was your natural strength, you made the bold choices without regret and adjusted strategy to win games, contests and really just control the room.
Nearly all of us have two of these four characteristics as a personal strength, and they work together as a team to make us the person our friends and family loved when we were young. Trouble is, not all of us find a career with our born strengths. We often have to learn new skills like organization, promptness, setting an alarm clock and being nice to co-workers to earn and keep a job.
Still some skills feel like a cage that boxes us in, so we cannot grow to our potential. If you had those characteristics as a child/student, you probably don’t feel tied down by your gifts.
With your answers in mind, now consider: Are you using that personal strengths in your current life and career that helped you grow into a valuable adult? Odds are that nearly half of you are not using your natural strengths.
About two decades ago, I was recruited to work at a technical support call center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a significant change from my journalism career and customer service background. I entered the job with a natural strength combo that was fun-loving and ready to lead a team.
Call center work, however, focuses on analysis, deductive reasoning and troubleshooting with great customer service. I could have failed at that position because it didn’t suit my natural strengths. But I was looking for a new opportunity at the time — ALERT: fun-loving people get bored easily, and leaders leave jobs if they are not given growth opportunities — was eager to learn something new.
So I sat at a desk and took incoming calls on computer problems, but my fun-loving side got to play Nerf basketball and video games while solving major hardware/software issues. In retrospect, I can attest that my analytical skills are now among my best skills that I can draw on in any situation. It was semi built-in like my base characteristics because I have always been very good with numbers.
Conclusion: If you are working and using your childhood strengths at full force, congratulations. You probably have good self-esteem and knew your advantages in life before you picked a college and career path.
If you have switched away from your natural strengths, you have two options: Enjoy the journey and learn all you can from this new opportunity.
Or investigate the true strengths in your childhood and reconnect with those super powers. If you were a follower, you can become a leader again without departing a quality employer or partner. Keep your eyes open for a chance to plug-in one of your dormant powers. The world will thank you.
My advice to 98 percent of adults is to remember your childhood and the happiest times. Whatever you did on those days will still bring you joy today. So do the homework and chase personal happiness over career happiness.
We all know a lot of unhappy coworkers or bosses who never seem to smile or enjoy the moment. That attitude sucks, friend. It hurts that person’s health and the attitude — if not the health — of everyone they come in contact with.
Since you are likely interest in living your best life and not a miserable waste of time, I suggest we all actively pursue happiness at home, when we look in the mirror, when we drive and at work.
Let your smile come out and play. Studies are showing that happy people are more productive, even if they spend extra time playing on the Wii or meditating. And a happy office — hey boss, this is in your hands too — not only works better together, but the employees are more loyal and they go out of their way to help coworkers.
Let the leaders lead. Let the peacemakers lead too because they are not confrontational; it is a sweet change to the Type-A hot head.
Bottom Line: We are all magnificently made with unique and wonderful talents. Don’t hide your glory. Let it shine and share your perspective, wisdom and skills with those around you. This is another way to improve our little blue planet.