I first learned how important my talents were in 5th grade. I was sitting in a parent-teacher conference with my teacher, Mr. Holly. He was going over standardized test scores with my parents. In a polite way, he was telling them I was ‘very average’. Suddenly he pointed to one score with excitement. ‘Here! This is an area of exceptionally ability. She’s at the 12 grade level.’ We all marveled and pondered this score for a moment.
Soon the conference was over and the test score forgotten. I continued to plod through high school and college as a ‘C’ student. School did not come easily for me. I worked hard. At 25 I decided to go to graduate school. The admissions counselor doubted I could get in. With a bit of persuasion, the school allowed me to enter on a trial basis. From the minute I set foot in their door, I made straight A’s and graduated with a 4.0!
Now you might wonder – how did this average student jump to the top of the class? Did I study more? Was I more disciplined? Or did I finally learn the secret to success in school?
No. It was none of the above. Actually I worked less and had more fun in graduate school than ever before. SO what happened?
Finally after years in school, I had entered my talent zone. School was exciting and easy. I loved my studies. I excelled in every class and graduated with honors. Since that time I’ve continued to focus on my talents. It’s a great way to work. In my life, I’ve played many roles – but all of them use my core talents.
Do you know your talent zone? Are you in it? To discover your talent zone, take time to reflect on these questions:
When do you feel energized and excited at work? When do you lose track of time and become absorbed in what you’re doing? Do you enjoy working with new ideas? Or do you like to orchestrate the details of projects? Are you more engaged at the front end of projects or do you prefer to see them across the finish line? Simply notice your energy level and enthusiasm and you’ll discover your talent zone.
What type of project motivates and excites you? Which projects and activities tickle your fancy? What kind of challenges do you like to tackle? When do you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment? Do you take pride in conveying new ideas, cleaning up a mess, solving technical issues or remedying people problems? Notice when you want to contribute. This is your talent zone.
What bugs you? When do you become irritated? An administrative assistant I work with is annoyed by inefficiencies. If she has to do something twice, it really bugs her. She’s always recommending ways to streamline the process and make things efficient. It frustrated her to waste time. She likes to focus on tasks that make the work more efficient. This is her talent. Discover what bugs you and take action. You’ll be right in your talent zone.
Everyone has a talent zone. Make a point to find it. Your talent zone is like a jet stream that can propel you and your career into high gear. Once you step on – your career takes on a life of it’s own. So jump on – and enjoy the ride.