"Find A Career Doing What You're Good At"
I’m sure you’ve heard this advice, and perhaps you've given it to friends and loved ones. In fact, this “do what you’re good at” myth sets the premise for almost all traditional career counseling and decision making. The simple idea is that if you do work that you’re good at, you will find greater recognition and success in your career.
Based On This Career Myth-
Schools administer report cards and standard aptitude tests
Most company performance and development processes are focused on driving awareness and alignment with your strengths
When making succession and promotional decisions, the level and role that a person is assigned is generally solely based upon how others in the organization assess their capabilities
Perceived strengths rule the talent and career decision-making. Other factors such as a person’s core needs and interests are rarely considered.
Tap Into The Real Source Of Career Wealth
To be clear, it's always a good idea to be aware of your areas of strength and opportunity. However, when your areas of perceived aptitude are the primary reason for choosing and following a career direction, you run the risk of not tapping into the real source of career wealth – your passions. Tools and techniques for evaluating your capabilities are faulty and often inaccurate.
Time-and-again we have counseled people who have been told not to pursue a career direction because they weren’t “inclined” in a certain area. Years later they regained confidence, and the awareness that they did have the capability. Unfortunately, by the time they stopped listening to “experts” and their perceptions, they had spent years in less fulfilling careers doing what they were “good” at. What’s clear is that people’s talents and abilities aren’t always the same as their passions.
As authors, we understand that in order to have career fulfillment we need to stop the grind (doing things we are talented in but hate) and embrace the work we love to do.
For example, Abigail was in sales for most of her career. Abigail is outgoing and found sales to be relatively easy. Over time she had success, even winning some company sales awards. While she was good at what she did, and was receiving recognition, it wasn’t fulfilling. The awards no longer gave her the motivation to get out of bed and felt like she was simply going through the motions at work. Abigail was good at her job but also found it to be exhausting. She decided to resign and to pursue a career that better fit her core needs.
You may have a similar story. Are you performing work that others appreciate but you don’t enjoy? Finding your own career fulfillment and success begins with stopping the grind - doing things you are talented in but don’t enjoy - and embracing the work you love to do.
As part of their engagement focus, many companies are seeing that tapping into the passion, not necessarily the overt strengths, of people will spark higher levels of sustained effort and results. We believe the coming years will bring an emerging awareness and practice for bringing employee passion into the workplace.
Adapted from the book “Don’t Dread Monday: Your Guide to Career Success.”