I detested school. I wasn't troubled or defiant, I just didn't enjoy it.
The problem is I didn't excel at traditional methods of learning. I slogged away at my homework: math, science, social studies- none of it seemed to stick. My friends received good grades with ease, while I plugged away to get mediocre results. Everyday I questioned if there was something wrong with me and wondered what my fate would be.
Read: How to Motivate Gen Y
When I got to University, I stumbled upon public speaking, and miraculously thrived. For some odd reason when I got up in front of the room to do a motivational talk, the world stood still. Words would flow out of my mouth. Astoundingly, people sat up and paid attention.
The A that I achieved in public speaking, allowed me to barely slide through and meet my requirements at school. Thankfully, years later as an inspirational speaker, the skill I discovered now pays my mortgage.
Lucky for me I have built a career by leveraging the skills and talents that come naturally to me. As a result, being an inspirational speaker is a labor of love, it is easy and fun, it energizes and uplifts me. When I am working, I am naturally productive and focused. I quietly laugh when others call it work.
Doing What Comes Naturally
Many, many people struggle to enjoy their work. Disgruntled employees quit their job and take career building courses and try to find jobs more in line with their skills. Meanwhile, organization spends millions hiring and trying to retain and motivate employees. What if we could just alter the work to be more in line with the natural skills of talented employees?
I'm not suggesting some huge leap into unknown territory. I am suggesting slight job restructuring to allow people to do the things they naturally excel at.
The quickest way to improve performance is to free people up to do the things that they are good at doing. It is easier to get things done when you are involved in a labour of love. Trust me, people will excel when they can do things in line with where their talents lie.
For example, my friend Niam is an exceptional marketer and is extremely social media savy. He can also create a wicked website. He is currently a database administrator for a large organization who happens to need to integrate social media into their database. What better person to assist with this than Niam? He asked to assist with the undertaking and was denied. Apparently marketing is a different department and skills set.
Read: Play helps us Learn
I see this as a Big Mistake. The organization would be far better off helping people use their innate talents to their benefit. This may require a simple job restructuring, or possibly a day or two a month devoted to social media integration. Once he gets a handle on it, his job may further fluctuate and change. Niam could also branch out and do something simple like a monthly workshop about using social media.
Another example: a meeting planner who I worked with always has a real eye for editing. She often read clients materials where grammer and punctuation errors would stick out like a single broccoli in a sea of gravy-drenched mashed potato. She started offering a workshop to edit people's work. She found she loved it and was so good at it, it became a much larger facet of her job.
In my case, I would be extra devoted to any organization that allowed me to chair a meeting or present in public. This could easily be arranged by allowing me to give a motivational talk at an industry conference or staff meeting.
If we sat down and helped people uncover their skills ( no career discovery workshop necessary- most people already know what they are good at) and use them at work- they would be more energized, productive, focused and morale would sky rocket.