Are you using your strengths to light up your work?
For my last birthday, I bought myself a present I really loved: light-up LED shoes for my party. They were so fun to wear on the night, not just because it meant I could change out of my heels into something more comfortable, but because they made me feel like a mix between a genie DJ in charge of a fantastic light show, a kid with an amazing collection of neon glow accessories, and an astronaut at a rave. I felt like I had magic feet.
The day after the party, the shoes went back into their box, and haven’t made an appearance since then. This morning, as I was getting ready to start my day, I thought about those shoes. Why were they just sitting in the closet? Why I hadn’t I taken them out and worn them again? Why could I not wear them today, as I work, for an extra surge of energy and fun, a bit of footwear mojo to kick start my thinking?
One of the perks of working from home has to be footwear choice, so I decided today would be as good as any to put on those magic shoes. First, I had to find them, which turned out to be relatively easy. The next thing I had to do was charge them. Seven months in the box without use – dead batteries were certainly to be expected. The good news was the USB charger was nestled in the wrapping, so the shoes are charging as I write this.
It got me thinking that the same thing can sometimes happen with our skills and talents. If we’re not using them regularly, we, and others, can forget about them. They can start to feel rusty, or even worse, we may not even be able to remember ever having them in the first place! An inner critic voice might convince us that the skills aren’t worth dusting off and putting to use, in order to spare us the embarrassment of feeling newly like a beginner again.
I used to be fluent in French, and years ago, I would stand at the front of a classroom and train clients in detailed technical workshops, in French. I knew I made errors, but they were generally harmless and the content was always clear enough for me to understand and be understood. These days, I rarely speak French; in a way, that skill is lying dormant. Interestingly enough, the word “dormant” comes from the French word “dormir – to sleep”. The skill is in me, but it’s just having a really long nap.
We each have a unique mix of strengths, skills, areas of expertise and specialisms – the things that we’re really good at. Using them makes us feel more productive, more positive about our work, and others benefit from this powerful combination of us being at our best. When you think of your own skills and talents, which ones do you wish you were using more?
A challenge arises if you’re not letting a strength area see any daylight or get a chance to shine. As you think of something you’d really love to be doing more of, could you speak to your manager to see about bringing that aspect of your work in more? Perhaps be part of a special project to reconnect with that skill that you might enjoy, but use less at the moment? Could you join a group or club outside of work where you know you’ll get to practice it, to remind yourself of what it feels like when you’re back in touch with that part of your toolkit that you really love?
A bit like my shoes, imagine the possibilities and fun if you let your talents and gifts resurface, get recharged, and be put to good use. You could be creating more magic for yourself and for others.
And if your job has stopped lighting you up on the inside, feel free to contact me about working together to help you find and do more meaningful work. I’d love to hear from you.
In the meantime, I’ve got a kitchen that’s dying to be turned into a dance floor….and I’ve got just the shoes for it.