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How to Excel at Work

Several years ago, when our oldest son was a pre-architecture freshman at Iowa State University, he called me at work about 6 pm on a weeknight. Because our college-age sons usually made their obligatory weekly call home on Sunday evenings, I was worried something might be wrong.

I anxiously picked up the phone and our son quickly blurted out, “Mom, I came in to (Design) studio (where they worked on their architecture projects) at noon, and I just now looked up at the clock and it’s 6 pm! I don’t know where the time went!”

I chuckled then congratulated him on having chosen an appropriate major. I also told him he was “lucky" to have had that experience and that losing himself in his work should give him confidence that he would do well in his major. I also shared with him the sad fact that I had many clients over the course of my work as a career counselor that NEVER had the experience of “losing themselves” in any kind of project or activity – for work or avocational pursuits.

“Losing yourself in something,” or “getting in your zone,” or, as NYTimes best-selling author Gay

Hendricks puts it, “finding your zone of genius (The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, 2010),” are HUGE CLUES you might be engaging with a natural talent or two!

Gwen Moran, a writer, editor, and creator of Bloom Anywhere, a website for people who want to move up or move on, recently suggested several ways you could identify the strengths that will make you more effective at work in a recent Fast Company: Career Evolution article on April 28, 2021. She maintains, and I wholeheartedly agree, that “When you align your work and your strengths, you work better and more efficiently.” I also posit that when you are engaged in the kind of work that comes more naturally to you, you excel.

Moran goes on to describe six ways you can identify the strengths that will make you more effective at work in the Fast Company article noted above. Some of you have taken Gallup’s CliftonStrengths (formerly known as the Strengths Finder) through your employer which should have clued you in to five potential strengths. If you think you could use a more structured and comprehensive approach, I have a well-developed proprietary tool I routinely use with clients that has proven beneficial in identifying one’s natural or inherent strengths/talents. Please let me know if I can assist!

Excelling at work is not just for a few superstars: it can be a reality for each of us!

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