Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life

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9781609947231: Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life

Unlock the Greatness in Yourself and Others

Whether you’re the new kid in a cubicle, the boss in the executive suite, or self-employed, you have huge potential for greater productivity and fulfillment. Even very high performers in excellent organizations—large and small, for profit and nonprofit—report that 30 to 40 percent of their talent is untapped. Imagine what lies waiting for you.

Take Charge of Your Talent details three keys to develop and enjoy your abilities. You’ll discover new ways to identify your aspirations and opportunities, power past obstacles, and translate your intentions into results. Finally, you’ll create a personal brand with enduring career assets that will multiply the payoffs for yourself and your organization.

 

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About the Author:

Don Maruska founded and was CEO of three Silicon Valley companies and now inspires and guides leaders and teams around the world to be their best in their work and careers. He is the author of How Great Decisions Get Made.

Jay Perry is one of the founders of Coach University and the International Coach Federation and has over two decades of experience bringing forth the creative genius of people in all walks of life.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

INTRODUCTION:
THE PERFECT MOMENT IS NOW
Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumbt-widdling; true happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents.
JOHN W. GARDNER
The world belongs to the talented, and that means you. If you want to take charge of your talent, enhance your career, and discover new possibilities, this book is for you. You don’t need to wait for a golden opportunity or for someone else to give you the thumbs-up; you can take the initiative yourself. It’s your talent, and the perfect moment is now.
Whether you’re the new kid in a cubicle, you’re the boss in the executive suite, or you run your own business, you have huge potential for greater productivity and fulfillment. Even very high performers in excellent organizations — large and small, for profit and nonprofit—report that 30 to 40 percent of their talent is untapped.1 And that’s only the talent they know about. It doesn’t capture what they haven’t discovered yet.
It doesn’t matter if you are the senior manager of a big team, a teacher, a techie mastermind, or a freelancing artist. It doesn’t matter if you are salaried in six figures or are just starting out. The picture is the same: You could enjoy using more of your talent, if you could just figure out how.
Your talent is not simply your strength or your skill set. It is your self-expression—the joyful demonstration of your unique abilities that benefit both you and the world.
Over the course of your life, the story about your talent can take many twists and turns. At one point, you may feel on top of the world. At other times, you may feel stuck on the sidelines. Which of the following describes where you are now?
Stymied by a hurdle, like lack of education, experience, or credentials
Lacking time and opportunities to grow
Concerned about the personal costs related to making a change
Eager and ambitious and looking for the best path
Blocked by organizational constraints
Afraid that if you tried something different, you might fail
Pigeonholed in a role you want to change
Settled, a little complacent, wondering if there is something more
Feeling fulfilled and ready to grow further
You may be itching to move forward. However, even if that’s not the case and you feel at ease with the status quo, you may be missing out.
Interestingly, as authors we experienced each of the above states in the process of bringing this book to life. We felt the excitement of sharing new insights and tools. We experienced the obstacles and constraints to relaying them. We needed to navigate the fear of failure and tradeoffs with family and other interests to bring the book to completion. Fortunately, we took our own advice and employed the practices we offer in this book.
We developed the keys in this book to make talent development easy, accessible, and enjoyable for everyone. The keys are the essentials that we have distilled from decades of personal experience working in organizations as assistants, managers, and CEOs, and as professional coaches stimulating cultures of talent development. They also incorporate insights from the latest neuroscience and psychological research on how to elevate performance and satisfaction.
As powerful and effective as professional coaching can be, we became concerned that it is only accessible and affordable to less than 1 percent of the workforce. We wanted resources available for everyone. Thus, we created, tested, and optimized a simple set of keys for you to use. As our clients began to apply these keys and see the benefits, they wanted to share them with others. Some even asked, “How do we get a copy of your book?” before there actually was a book. So, here it is.
Throughout this book, you’ll read the experiences and perspectives of a wide range of people, representing many different roles and workplaces. They draw from real-life situations. We’ve changed the names and circumstances both to protect the individuals’ privacy and confidentiality and to help illustrate important points. The challenges will probably sound familiar to you. Their purpose is to help you visualize the keys in action. Ultimately, your proof will be your own experience in taking charge of your talent.
WHY YOUR TALENT MATTERS
Why should you take charge of your talent? Because your talent matters. It matters to you, it matters to your organization, and it matters to the world. When your talent lies dormant, there is a hole in your daily life. You may feel a lack of contentment and try to fill the hole with all kinds of activities and possessions that never quite do the trick. Opposing forces blunt your efforts and squash your hopes.
On the other hand, when you express your talent, the world vibrates with possibility. You feel the sweet experience of satisfaction. One idea leads to the next, and the next. Time flies. Life is filled with resources that carry you forward, sometimes in surprising ways.
Is it really that big of a deal for you to find a way to use more of your talent at work? We say “Yes!” It’s a terrible waste when talent gets brushed aside. We know that when you aren’t using your talent to the fullest, everyone pays the price. Your productivity dips, your innovation peters out, and your love of life may evaporate. You may still be doing your job, but the joy you may have had has dissipated. The frustration, boredom, or stress from work can cause toxic damage to your personal life as well. You may get in a rut and become blind to new opportunities. If you can’t see the road signs, you don’t take the right turns. You lose something of yourself and what you could be. Thus, the obvious makes sense: when you engage more of your talent, you become happier. And how important is that?
PUT TALENT DEVELOPMENT IN THE HANDS OF THE TALENTED
If you’ve gone out on your own or have recently lost your job, it may be clear to you that it’s your responsibility to take charge of your talent. You need to take care of yourself, because there’s nobody else who will. This book will support you in doing just that.
What if, however, you are in an organization that does give attention to talent development? Maybe it will take care of you. After all, enlightened organizations often have training classes and leadership development programs and give special attention to people identified as “high potentials.” That’s all fine and dandy, if you are one of the chosen … in which case, we encourage you to take advantage of the resources that serve your aspirations. But what if you aren’t one of the chosen, or you want to do more on your own initiative? We will help you to explore your talent potential more fully at work.
Even if you are one of the chosen and feel fully engaged in your work, there are strong reasons for you to take charge of your talent and for your organization to encourage you to do so. As good as top-down talent development programs in organizations may be, they have limitations for both employees and their organizations. Many start with organizational needs and train people to fill those requirements. Such programs, however, don’t tap a person’s core enthusiasm and accompanying talent.
How much talent gets bypassed with a mechanistic approach where each person fits into a slot and organizational objectives drive talent development? That’s probably a big chunk of the 30 to 40 percent of untapped talent that employees reported in the surveys we noted earlier.
The mechanistic approach would make complete sense except that people aren’t machines and don’t want to be “driven” like cattle. As Daniel Pink concludes in Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, transactional systems may successfully get people to complete routine tasks, but they aren’t likely to inspire the groundbreaking innovations and genuine engagement that both individuals and organizations need to thrive.2
When companies ask, “How do we get employees to contribute more than what’s required for their pay?” they lose the race right out of the gate. This is the transactional view. When employees sense they are working in a tit-for-tat environment, they may respond by thinking, “OK, I’ve got my skills. You’re my employer. How are we going to barter? What’s the deal?”
The transactional mode triggers fearful behavior. Everything is a negotiation that no worker wants to lose. Yes, you want to be valued and respected. And no, you don’t want to be used and taken advantage of. “What are you going to give me for my extra effort? Is it fair? Who’s going to come out ahead? Who’s in charge? Do I like him or her?” Even positive answers to the transactional questions lead to a dead end. What if the deal is fair? Lack of fairness can kill motivation, but fairness alone doesn’t inspire it.
As a senior executive commented after his management team analyzed how best to boost results, “We concluded that we could pay people twice as much and get a short-term bump in performance, but it wouldn’t make a lasting difference. Long-term change has to come from the employees’ own motivation.”
WHY WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU IS GOOD FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION
Take Charge of Your Talent provides an alternative to the top-down transactional model of talent development with a new generative paradigm of “Everyone can play and everyone can win.” This approach makes access to talent development available to all and generates an environment where people want to contribute. If your organization chooses to encourage all employees to take charge of their talent, you’ll benefit from having coworkers who will be learning and growing with you.
Talent development needs to ride the wave of interest people have to take charge of what’s important to them. As new opportunities arise for people to do thi...

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