Look. I’m just going to come right out and say it… I honestly don’t think that you were born to do a single thing. Not one. And I’m admittedly indulging in a bit of word play here. What can I say? It’s in my nature. I actually think that you were created (and fully equipped) to do several things.
Society implores us to search for our passion — like it’s singular. And in turn we move through our days hunting for one very specific slice of contribution that collapses into dust if we don’t ‘find’ it. I don’t believe that a fulfilling, profitable career needs to major in one topic for the long haul.
What if I told you (all Morpheus Matrix meme-style and what not) that we can reinvent ourselves when we choose and stay true to the building blocks of talent that we’ve possessed since day one? I could drop the mic and do my victory dance right now, but I know that some of you are giving major side eye to the screen. #unconvinced. Let me explain.
Those of you who’ve been in my community for a minute know that I am obsessed with Clifton Strengths, and I’m ‘all in’ on the idea of using our talents as the proverbial springboard for our most successful endeavors. You want to crush it? Use your strengths. You want to grow? Use your strengths. My Signature Pivot with Purpose Program’s Manifesto includes ‘we use our talents’ as one of the 10 core principles. We each have unique talents – things that we do better than anyone else. Seriously. You are the bombdiggity in certain ways. Not in every way*, but you are absolutely amazing when it comes to specific thoughts, behaviors or emotions.
Your talents are tools – veritable assets along the roadway of life. What we forget is that you can use your toolkit to build whatever the eff you want. Stay with me. Say your toolkit includes wood, nails, a saw and bright blue paint. You might apprentice and learn to build mailboxes with your tools. And you might be a fine mailbox builder – until the day when the boredom sets in. And you don’t want to get up to build another frickin’ mailbox. You realize that you have the ability to use your same toolkit to build birdhouses now instead. Or custom doghouses. Or maybe you’re going to use your toolkit to patch hardwood floors (sans the blue paint). See what I’m doing here? Your talents aren’t puzzle pieces that only fit together one way to create a single scene, but rather dynamic elements that equip you to create all sorts of results.
Your expertise and knowledge can absolutely transfer from one industry or domain to another. The question is this: will you be open-minded and innovative enough to recognize the synergies when they aren’t so obvious to others? Your core abilities are special – only you can do what you do with your talents the way you do it. You can also use your strengths to add value (meaning people will pay you that cash money, honey) in more than one way. We simply become so myopic (and fearful) that we buy into the idea that a hammer can only be used to hit a nail. In turn, we stifle our creativity in exchange for perceived security, safety and so-called norms.
Some people call this ability to flex within the realm of our talents being ‘multi-passionate’. I call it being human. Our toolkit of talents is unique, specialized and scoped in nature but not in potential impact. My toolkit doesn’t necessarily look anything like yours, but we each have the opportunity to contribute in a number of ways.
When I facilitate Clifton Strengths workshops and coach individuals, someone will invariably ask “so what job should I go for now that I know more about my strengths?” Alas, there isn’t a single mapping for our talents. There isn’t one perfect answer, one key to fit the lock – so please don’t think that all is lost if you don’t find your “it”. We’re so terrified that we’ll miss our calling. Truth be told, you can design several career options that will energize, engage and challenge you if you walk hand-in-hand with your intrinsic gifts. Yeah, I said it.
The real magic lies in the journey of how you use your talent toolkit rather than in the destination of what you opt to build.
That was deep, no? Read it again – go ahead, I’ll wait.
To make it plain: the activities that light you up are a fit; the ones that drain you aren’t. The metrics of success will align with what we think and how we feel throughout the experience. So. I’ll say it again: You weren’t born to do a single thing.
Can I drop the mic now?
*Note: Real talk – No one is good at everything. Or ever can be for that matter. Catch what I’m throwing – that #truthbomb right there will set you free.