Your Career Challenge: Astound Yourself

One of my very favorite quotes about career and life comes from Thomas Edison. The inventor, who also taught us many great lessons about success and failure, tells us, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” That quote is on the inside front cover of my writing notebook. (Yes, I write old school – pen and paper first.) And, when this notebook gets filled up, I’ll add it to the inside cover of the next one, too. I love this quote. I find it incredibly powerful and inspiring, and I believe in its truth. Do you? We’re all great at something. We have energy and passion and talents that, if released, could contribute to something pretty amazing. But are we in positions to release all of that energy, passion, and talent?

Survey Says… No

Studies show that a staggering majority of American workers are dissatisfied with their present occupations. Of those surveyed, 71% percent classify themselves as “disengaged” or “actively disengaged” at work; 66% plan on looking for a new job in the coming year. (I guess the other five percent plan to just stick it out in their misery…?) The reasons for being unhappy at work vary. The job itself may not be a good fit. Relationships with co-workers or supervisors may be difficult. Lack of job security, flexibility, or adequate compensation may be the issues. Too much travel, responsibility, or corporate politics could be the culprits. Whatever the reason, the results are the same. If you’re in that situation, you’re not astounding yourself (unless you consider your abilities to refrain from screaming “I quit!” or strangling your annoying co-worker or boss astounding, but that’s not exactly what we’re shooting for here). No – you’re exhausting yourself. You’re trading your time and some of your talents for a paycheck, but, at the end of the day, you’re not experiencing the joy of a job incredibly well done – a job that allowed you to use your favorite and best talents. To astound ourselves in the way that Edison talks about, we need to be in roles that allow us to release our best selves. We need to be using the talents that we most delight in using – not just the skills that we can perform with competence. We need to use those talents to serve those we admire or desperately would love to help. And we need to be in settings that allow us to be us. We don’t need to change into our “work personalities” to fit in; we get to shine as our true selves.

Astounding Yourself

Settling for anything less robs us of this opportunity. So, how can we go about the business of astounding ourselves?

Put Your Best Talent(s) Forward

What talents bring you the most joy when you use them? What skills do you have to offer that you want to share? Most of us could create nice long lists of things that we’re good at or able to do, but that list of competencies doesn’t necessarily fit our dream job descriptions. Boil it down to your favorite abilities and find a way to spend more of your time focusing on them.

Follow Your Heart

Does that sound like fluffy advice? It’s not, I promise. Don’t ignore your natural passions – they’re the fuel for why you do what you do (the reason beyond the paycheck). If you’re a parent, you’ve surely discovered that your child has interests and attributes that are just in his or her wiring. They’re drawn to certain things naturally, and they’re clearly disinterested or not cut out for others. Don’t ignore that about yourself. There are certain things in your wiring too that energize and inspire you. And there are certain types of people that you’d love to serve or serve alongside. Find them. So here’s the great “What if” thought: What if you could find a way to:
  • Use the talents you delight most in using
  • Serve a cause or group that is meaningful to you
  • Work in an environment that energizes you
What would you be capable of then? “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” There’s your challenge. Astound yourself. Enjoy this article? You've got time for another! Check out these related articles: Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In our new YouTube series, "Well This Happened" it's your turn to be the career coach! What would you do if you asked a coworker when the baby was due and she responded with, "I'm not pregnant." Watch the video and cast your vote b posting a comment on Youtube. We'll select one person from the correct answers at random to win free membership to the Work It Daily program. Good luck!

SHOW MORE Show less

If you've ever wondered what a Work It Daily (WID) membership could do for you, a letter we got this week provides a powerful example...

SHOW MORE Show less

There are 3 things hiring managers are trying to initially assess about you in the job interview. This video walks you through what they are looking for and offers insights into the right information to give them. Be sure to check out our free resources mentioned in the video too. They are:

SHOW MORE Show less

Last week during my Office Hours on Youtube, a client asked about how to deal with a workplace bully. After spending many years in corporate HR, I flipped to the other side and became a career therapist. So, I've seen both sides of this situation in the workplace. In this video, I discuss why people struggle to deal with bullies and what you can do to change the situation instantly.

This week, I did something that truly scared me. I sent an email to over 120,000 Work It Daily newsletter subscribers and asked them to answer the question, "What do we do?"

SHOW MORE Show less

A market correction is going to happen. When it does, layoffs will follow. I've been in the HR and recruiting industry for over two decades and have seen three recessions of varying sizes. In the video above, I explain how to tell when a recession is coming and what that means to you and your career. While many people will skip watching this. Or, will watch it and do nothing. I hope YOU are the smart, savvy professional who sees how important it is to prepare for unexpected, unwelcomed career circumstances.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this video, you'll learn how to tell if your career is plateauing due to the Executive Blues. You'll also learn what you can do to fix the problem and get your "executive energy" back so you can keep your career on track and set goals to reach new heights of success!

Want to watch the full video tutorial by J.T.?

CLICK HERE to get access!