Copyright 2006 Robin Harris, DesignerLife
Multi-tasking and saying yes to too many things can dilute your effectiveness. People who are generalists, by design, can manage the broad sweeping details of several related or unrelated projects. But those who are more inclined to be specialists are naturally designed to go deep not wide.
The generalist will go stir crazy trying to play the role of the specialist and the specialist will lose access to their own competencies and strengths when trying to play the role of the generalist.
We live in a society that tends to make rules and create models for preferred behavioral traits without understanding how they correspond to innate abilities. Everyone is not meant to multi-task and everyone is not meant to specialize. Get it wrong and you have someone who can fall into the spectrum ranging from slightly frustrated and discontent all the way to grossly incompetent and angry.
To cultivate a career that has any hope of yielding its full potential, it needs to build on natural talents, abilities, and gifts (TAG). Talent and ability are the minimum requirements, gifts that find their way into our work life is a bonus. When all three are properly placed in a suitable role and environment, that is where people will rise to the tops of their fields, have the greatest impact, and contribute the most. Not only will their career shine but it makes a perfect segue for a totally satisfying life.
Work that undervalues or under-utilizes our natural abilities dilutes the over all quality of life. It leads to that elusive feeling that something is missing no matter how grand everything else appears to be. It doesnt matter if you command a 7-figure income; money cannot replace the human desire for purposeful and satisfying work.
It is fair to say that most businesses are still operating under an old assumption that talent and abilities are the same as learned skills and knowledge. When it comes to the subject of gifts, this rarely finds its way into a professional development program. Talents only shine when they are built on a foundation of natural ability or unnatural determination. Abilities are not learned they are innate and raw qualities they make it possible to excel in certain tasks and environments while making it difficult to excel in others.
If you are waiting for a corporate career development path that leverages your TAG, you will likely be disappointed unless you are on the executive development path. Many corporations are much more intentional when it comes to identifying and cultivating a match for executive talent than for the rank-and-file. Well, talented executives without a highly talented and committed team arent very effective, now are they? Still, it is up to the individual to take ownership of these personal treasures and find ways to integrate them into well-suited careers and work environments.
As the path of evolution closes off once viable options, we approach a daunting crossroad. We have to decide if we are going to be pruned from the vine, wither slowly, or thrive by making new and wiser choices that will force us out of our comfort zone. If we cannot cross over into the new emerging paradigm of work and we are still in our working years, the consequences will separate us from the life of comfort we have grown accustomed to. Companies and whole industries will continue to disappear from the economic playing field and many will attempt to survive change by downsizing and leveraging a global workforce. This strategy may be wise but often leaves the root cause of the problem unresolved and so the problem continues to sprout new symptoms that downsizing and global workforces cannot relieve. Meanwhile, the individual player stands hoping someone will rescue them and just like a deer frozen in the headlights, this reaction to personal threat of survival is often problematic. What are you preparing yourself to do to mitigate such risks? Do you have a financial cushion? Have you invested in keeping yourself marketable even in changing economies? Do you have multiple streams of income? Or is waiting for the storm to pass and hoping it will your only plan of action?
Your natural talents, abilities, and gifts are God-given and they extend beyond industries, local, national, global economies, and emerging technologies that make workers in certain fields obsolete. They are timeless and it is by becoming a good steward of your TAG that you will be guided to take the action that will allow you to begin to play a bigger game with far better outcomes. Winning on the economic playing field is important but winning at a soul-level is all-inclusive because that means you get the privileged experiences that money can and cannot buy.