A lot of our happiness and energy in life is derived from the use of our talents. When we use our talents we feel energized and positive, because we do what we really love doing.
So let's first define a talent: a real talent is something you are good at and which makes you feel mentally charged, even if you are physically tired.
In other words, just being good at something doesn't mean it is a real talent. You can be good at organising something, but not necessarily like it! Therefore, it is essential to find those two elements when you start identifying your talents. Your next step would be to create the context in which you can make the most use of your real talents, and maximise your satisfaction too.
1. Know YOUR talents
To get a picture of your talents, it is important to observe yourself well.
One suggestion would be to think back about your last two weeks of work, identify the moments when you felt really happy and energized and then relate them to the activities which led to this state of mind.
Did you have a good meeting with a client? Did you help someone? Were ideas just flowing during a brainstorming session?
Your next step would be to identify the talents needed for that particular activity. In the context of the questions above, the corresponding talents may be commercial flair (with or without the need to win the contract); empathy; high mental creativity. Though each talent would then have to be looked at in more detail, it is certainly a good start.
2. Identify your energy drainers
Just the way you identified your talents, you can identify the things you would rather not do, the things which drain you. You will recognise them in the same way, by observing yourself closely. Recently I had an administrative task to complete, which took me four long days. When I was finally done, I felt very tired and had no feeling of achievement whatsoever. When something requires a lot of energy, or makes you uncomfortable, you simply cannot have a feeling of satisfaction after completing your task, these are typically signs pointing to activities which are energy drainers. They are the ones you should ideally avoid but if that is not possible, they should certainly not take up the major part of your day. From now on, I will make sure I don't let those administrative task pile up!
3. Find opportunities to use your talents more often and solutions to reduce the use of your energy drainers.
It would be great if we could concentrate on just doing the things we like, wouldn't it?
A lot of us grew up hearing that 'we should also do our best, even when we are not good at or do not like doing something, that we can't expect to only do the things we like doing'.
Though this is to some extent true, and usually unavoidable, what is crucial is that at the end of the day your overall energy level should still remain positive.
And to reach that, you can start today.
Take your agenda and look at the meetings or tasks that drain you: scrap as many as possible and find different solutions for them if necessary. Develop strategies for things you are not good at (of course, if they don't work you will have to confront that fact too). For instance, use a system or tool, see if a colleague or associate would be interested in taking over that task or even outsource it. Aim at reorganising your work in such a way that you can make more use of your talents.
You could also look at opportunities to use some of your talents outside your professional environment, such as being active in an association, taking up voluntary work etc..
To be happy and feel energized, means you have to be able to use your talents, the real ones. Once you start giving them more room and dare to say no to the things you do not like, you will feel a change in your energy level, your overall feeling of well-being.
It is important to keep in mind that loving to do something, doesn't make you an expert in it. Talent and practice, nature and nurture, go hand in hand. In his book 'Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell puts forth the premise that to be a world class expert in a field requires 10,000 hours of practice. Though being a world class expert might not necessarily be ones' aim, it is certainly vital to identify what area to concentrate on!
In today's difficult economy, thinking about your talents might sound like a luxury. But it is not. It is a must! Because only when you use your talents, can you achieve excellence. That will make you stand out. And it will increase your energy and happiness!
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My mission is to help individuals and organisations to identify their talents, values and purpose, so they can lead satisfying lives.