Last week was a really busy time for me. When I was not meeting with clients or attending other appointments I had several time consuming projects I was working on. All of it was productive, worthy and noble causes, things that made me feel good about myself at the end of the day – the kind of good feeling we might experience after a workout at the gym or digging in the garden. Yes, I am proud to say I put in an honest week’s work last week.
Hold on a minute, though. Before I break my arm patting myself on the back I need to ask this question. How much of that time and energy was spent on things that were simply expected of me instead of those things only I can do, specific to my own unique gifts and talents? Consider this for example, what if Mozart or Rembrandt had only done those things that others expected of them? What if Mozart had become an accountant or Rembrandt a bricklayer – both worthy and noble professions all right? But then the world would have been deprived of the musical compositions and beautiful paintings they created. You and I, though, were not given such special talents we might argue. Or were we? According to co-authors Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton in their popular book Now Discover Your Strengths we all have unique gifts and talents, and if you buy the book there is a psychological assessment included that is designed to identify your own top five natural strengths. Not only that, their research also shows that your specific combination of top five strengths is unique to one in thirty-three million people. In other words the chances of ever finding a perfect match of someone like you who has your exact gifts and talents are almost infinitesimal.
In a Gallup survey of over two million global workers it was revealed that only 20 percent of employees working in large organizations feel that their strengths are in play every day. If that’s so does it mean those organizations are operating at only a 20 percent capacity? Does it also mean that you and I by spending the preponderance of our time and energy simply doing things that are expected of us – regardless how worthy and noble those deeds may be – are in fact utilizing only about 20 percent of our God-given gifts and talents?
Yeah, I may have put in an honest week’s work last week, but here’s the challenge – for you and for me: How can we increase our capacity from 20 percent to, say, 30 percent? And why is that so important if we are doing good works in the first place? Because if we don’t we may be depriving the world of what we were uniquely made to do.