For many people, work can be an onerous, frustrating and even demeaning experience -- they work only so they can enjoy the rest of their lives. If you find that hard to believe, consider this: According to research, an astonishing 88% of all Americans daydream at work about quitting their job and finding a new career.
Why are so many people unhappy with their employment?
Because they're doing unNatural work. They have an inherent talent -- like every human being – but they're stuck in a lousy career that ignores or, worse, tramples on that capability. I call this talent your Natural, because it is as integral a part of who you are as your personality. It is an essential element of your individual definition, and helps make you a unique and special person.
Your Natural is something you love to do and do well. It's a ready-made, natural talent, and excelling at it gives you an extraordinary sense of satisfaction – even fulfillment. When seeking out your Natural, however, keep in mind that it won't be found in a specific position title or an occupation. You don't work at your Natural by being a senior project manager, or a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief. You do it by excelling in an activity that helps you succeed at those jobs.
For example, Lance Armstrong is a champion cyclist. His Natural, however, is not professional cycling but his inborn talent for agility, endurance and stamina. He chose to apply his Natural to the sport of cycling, but he could have been just as successful and fulfilled in another career, as long as it also depended on agility, endurance and stamina – his natural talents.
So what does that mean for the rest of us in the world of work?
- We're all superstars-in-waiting
- Using our Natural is key to what makes us unique
- Our Natural is a raw talent that needs nurturing
- Ignoring our Natural at work stops us from becoming the person of our dreams
Every single one of us has a Lance Armstrong, a Susan Boyle, a Sully Sullenberger inside us. We can realize that champion in our career – by using our ready-made talents at the office – but only if we have a fulfilling job that requires our Natural to be successful.
The Human Genome Project proved that, as different as we may seem on the outside, we are only 3% different on the inside. Putting our Natural to work is one of the ways we achieve that 3%, and establish ourselves as individuals.
It's up to us to discover our Natural and refine it. We must continuously strengthen it and find new ways to apply it at work. Captain Sullenberger didn't perform a heroic feat of flying by simply climbing in the cockpit each day and going through the motions. He practiced regularly and rigorously to build up his ability to use his Natural to its fullest, and he needed every bit of that skill to land his plane safely and achieve the "miracle on the Hudson."
Almost nine out of ten Americans can imagine the superstar inside them, but for one reason or another, they fail to bring that person to work. Yet more than anything else, work typically challenges us to be the best we can be. Work gives us a chance to experience the champion inside us.
And when we fail to take advantage of that opportunity – when we take a bad job that doesn't put our Natural to work – it feels toxic. Why? Because it is. Doing unNatural work prevents us from performing at our peak, and the resulting substandard performance harms us in two ways:
It jeopardizes our employment. In today's economy, doing anything less than our best work could result in a quick pink slip.
It prevents us from getting that sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing we have been tested – challenging the best of ourselves – and measured up.
You will spend one third or more of your life on-the-job. Don't sell that time short. Fill it with work that comes naturally to you, so you can express and experience your personal champion.