By Devin Fedor, AVP, HR Operations & Organizational Effectiveness at Mary Washington Healthcare
Years ago, my husband gifted me a set of high-quality kitchen knives. The first time I used them, I could tell they were superior. The knives had a good weight, a sharp edge and cut any food with ease if I picked the right one for the job. Over time they lost some of their shine and started to become dull. The knives still cut well, but not like that first day. So, I took out the sharpening tool and voila! The knives just needed some time and attention with to reach their full potential.
The same holds true with people. We are all born with certain talents. Things we are naturally good at, require less effort for us than others, and are worthwhile for us to develop or strengthen. There are many assessments you can take to help you uncover your talents. CliftonStrengths and StandOut are two of my personal favorites. Even without an assessment, a little self-reflection can reveal what you are good at and enjoy most. Still struggling? Try these reflection questions:
- What do others say you do well?
- What do you love doing?
- What activities bring you energy?
- What are you doing when you feel most in “flow”?
Understanding your talents is the first step. Next, comes making the investment to develop those talents and maintain them as strengths. Just like the knives, you must continuously sharpen your edge. Here are some ways to build intentionality into that process.
- Set personal and/or professional development goals for yourself. Bonus points if you make them SMART.
- Set up a support system. Sharing your goals with other people and leveraging tools to track them builds accountability.
- Seek out opportunities to practice. Repetition builds skill and confidence.
- Find inspiration in new and unique places. Learning from other people and experiences keeps things interesting.
- Reward yourself for accomplishments. Even small achievements deserve recognition and help you stay motivated.
Talent alone is rarely enough. As high school basketball coach Tim Notke famously said, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.