The Atlas

Figuring out what you do best

Welcome to 2020! I hope you had a great holiday season and are ready for a new year. After my brief holiday hiatus, I want to return to my breakdown of Gallup's 12 Elements of Employee Engagement. Picking up where we left off, which is the 3rd of the  12 elements: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

This is often the source of a lot of generational tension in the work place. It's not uncommon that older generations (the top half of Gen X and above, in particular) were raised to believe that work was work, and that their responsibility to their family was to go, do their job, and simply be a good soldier for 40 years until retirement.

A great deal of the pissing and moaning that we see between older and younger generations is often centered around this idea: things are the way they are, and you just need to quit your bitching and suck it up.

At the risk of stirring up that tiresome cat fight, I call bullshit. The world is a different place today. We are (by habit and norms, if not by necessity) working more, longer, with less stability, more fluidity around location, more frequently changing jobs and different expectations around accountability. And because of that, the way we engage in work ismore important than ever. And, as such, the level of discretionary effort we apply to our jobs -- which is a by-product of engagement -- is critical.

One of the reasons that I am a huge fan of people changing jobs is that without doing that a few times, it's almost impossible to start discovering what you are truly good at and what you really love.  Over time, learning what we are truly good at is a function of trial and error and one of the most important aspects of personal development we can engage in.

Some of us are lucky, in that we stumble into roles that turn out to be direct hits. Others have to work at finding them. The more we understand about ourselves, our strengths and what we need from those around us, the easier it gets to know what is a good fit and what isn't.

A key reason I'm such a fan of CliftonStrengths is that it has been enormously helpful for me (and many of those I've managed/mentored) to get clearer about what I really want and need, so that I can make good choices about next steps -- with or without changing jobs.

Of course, other factors matter, too -- and we'll get to some of those in the coming weeks. But the most important piece to figure out what your actual super power really is. Before you can go searching for a job that gives you the opportunity to do what you do best, you need to discover what you do best.

Happy dragon slaying!

Alora's Signature