About talent and why it has nothing to do with excel sheets

January 22, 2022

When I worked in the corporate world, I associated talent with something outside of me. Talent was the area of ‘talent managers’. People who had long, complicated excel sheets that they were vigorously updating before important leadership team meetings. 

Those lists were only to be discussed in private cubicles, because they had names on them. Names.. Of talents…  You were one or you were not.

Wrong. I know that now. 

Talents and excel sheets have very little in common. It is not true that you ‘are’ one, or not. The area of talents is one of abundance and joy.

Not exclusivity and ‘up or out’. 

Talents are those qualities that come naturally to you. The ones you feel are ‘normal” but make all the difference for other people. They are the reason why people want to work with you or have you on the team. Your adaptability for example, or your idea generation. The energy you bring when you enter a meeting. Your empathy, or action orientation. The way you bring social fabric to a group or community. The way you take charge. 

You work with your talents when what you do feels effortless. Energy, not outcome, is the most important indicator. You can be very good at something, get compliments, get asked for projects, but still feel depleted. That means that you are probably very competent, but not working with your talents. Doesn’t mean that you need to stop doing it. But knowing why you feel so tired can help. And there may be another way of getting to the same results. 

Now here is the tragedy: because real talents often feel so normal to you, you don’t notice them. Or value them. Or think they are anything special. And that is why you may need someone else to help you see.  

Your manager for example.
At the start of the year. 

So here is a call to action. Rather than dive straight into goals or gap-based development: start your goal-setting conversations with the question:

When does your Manager sees you in total flow.  When do they see you doing great work whilst it feels effortless.  What are the conditions? What are the qualities that you show? 

And then, rather than work on your gaps, see how you can make more of this to get you started on your goals for the year.

Wouldn’t that be an awesome start?

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