​It's time to flaunt your Core Talent

Knowing your Core Talent opens up a whole spectrum of options. Define what comes so naturally you take it for granted - then the sky is the limit.

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It's time to flaunt your Core Talent

My Dad always worked for Servis Washing Machines. It never occurred to him to change and go elsewhere - they wanted to keep him and he was happy to stay. It was a job for life and he was happy to do the same thing year in, year out.

Times are different now. Change is everywhere, nothing is certain. Limitations / opportunities abound and it’s up to us how we interpret them. I regularly get questions about changing jobs, finding the right move, managing interviews, showing up well and I believe it's all to go for – as long as you know clearly what you have to offer.

When doing my research for The Psychology of Success I met with people who had gone through numerous changes in their working lives – some building on what they had done already; some going off in completely different directions; some working for others; others working for themselves. They all had a number of factors in common:

  • They took responsibility and didn’t wait for others to give them permission or set the pace.
  • They took the rough with the smooth, working their way through the bad times learning as they went along.
  • They had a clear picture of what they could do well – their Core Talent - so they knew their ability and their limitations.

Knowing your Core Talent is a basic requirement for career/ work development. Whatever you choose to do has to build on this or you won’t enjoy yourself and you’ll never fulfill your potential.

What is your Core Talent?

Many people believe they don’t have a Core Talent. The desire not to strut or show off is strong – especially in Brits – so we hide our light away. There are times when humility is called for, but not when it comes to your career. To enjoy your work, do a great job and progress to the level you want, you have to know your Core Talent and be prepared to own up to it – loudly and on a regular basis.

Core Talent underpins your strengths and your skills. It drives what you can achieve in your life and gives you the greatest pleasure you can have at work. But there is a major problem – it comes so easily that you take it for granted assuming everyone can do it and never think to even mention it.

Let me give you an example: Caroline enjoys creating order. “I tidy up” she told me. As a mum, she tidies up after the kids; her friends talk to her when they have problems and she helps them think it all through in a logical way; her work is as a big shot corporate lawyer – she helps companies ‘tidy up’ their messes and loves every minute of it.

Millicent sees patterns in the world around her – so she is a great sailor, navigating the best line through the mess created as the starting gun sounds. She is also a brilliant scientist – exploring patterns to develop new and improved drugs.

For me, it is understanding relationships. I just ‘get’ what is happening in a room and can make a good guess at what people are thinking and feeling. It was years before I realised that not everyone was doing this – it is so obvious to me, I assumed it was obvious all round.

The Core Talent Spectrum

As you can see from these examples, Core Talent can take you into very different areas. Like white light entering a spectrum, it comes out in a whole rainbow of options for you to choose from. I have worked as a teacher, social worker, psychotherapist, management consultant, executive coach, trainer – and that is just my work life. All the different activities build on my Core Talent of understanding relationships, which means I’ve loved each role at the time and still had plenty of options when I’ve needed a new challenge.

It will be just the same for you once you are clear what your Core Talent is

Defining your Core Talent

This will be your greatest challenge – noticing what your Core Talent is. Because it comes so easily, you’re like a fish in water – it is the last thing you’re going to notice. So a few questions that will help you start the process of identification:

  • What are you doing when at your happiest? Clarify what it is and then look to the essence of what you’re doing.
  • What do your friends come to you for? Friends will see more clearly what you take for granted and will know when you are the ideal person to support / challenge / provide an answer to a specific question.
  • Look back through your life and identify the pattern - when have you been at your best and what were you doing?

Talk with friends

Don’t be surprised if this is a tough exercise to do. Remember you will take your Core Talent for granted, assuming everyone can do it, so you may never have spotted it for what it is.

Talk with your friends – it will be a really interesting experience to hear what other people value about you. Ask them:

  • What do you think I’m good at – work and home?
  • What do you value in our friendship?
  • How would you describe me to someone who hasn’t met me yet?
  • In what circumstances would you turn to me for help?
  • What do you see in me that I don’t recognize myself

Give time to the discussion – maybe go out for supper together so you have uninterrupted time to talk. The topic will be easier if the conversation is two way, so think before hand about how you would answer the same questions for your friend. And take a notebook – you will be tempted to dismiss what is said or at least forget it, so write down the main points.

Let your friend know what you want to talk about – maybe sharing this blog would be a good starting point. Then get yourself in the right frame of mind to truly listen and accept what is being said to you. Once you have asked your question, go into listening mode and only comment when you don’t understand what is being said. Please resist the temptation to contradict, explain away, back off what is being said to you. This is what the world sees in you. You may not recognise it, but it has to be there otherwise the other person wouldn’t be able to talk about it.

Talk with your colleagues and/or Manager

Framed as an exploration of your career development, this can also be a very constructive conversation with your colleagues and manager. As with your friends, let them know what you want to discuss. Suitable questions would be:

  • What tasks/jobs do you think I’m best suited to?
  • What is it about the way I work that leads you to think that?
  • What potential do you see that I have yet to realise?
  • Is there anything you see in me that I don’t recognize?

Once you have done your own thinking and listened to what others have to say, take some time to bring all the information together. Have a go at creating a short phrase to describe your Core Talent that is easy to recall. Like Caroline who ‘tidies up’ and Millicent who ‘sees patterns’. If you can’t make it short and sweet, just go for what makes sense to you. This isn’t something where there are a limited number of options. You can describe it anyway that works for you - just get something written down.

Then go into work the next day and pay attention to how you live out your Core Talent. Learn more about it, enjoy yourself and be open to the opportunities it will give you.

And next time you are considering a move or a job, make this the first question – will this use my Core Talent. If not, keep looking until you find the option that fits and allows you to flow happily with what you do best.

Post your questions in the comments section below, ask us on the Psychologies Facebook and Twitter page or email letters@psychologies.co.uk. I’ll be posting regularly, answering your questions.

Judith Leary Joyce

Great Companies Consulting

In 1996 I made the shift into business, taking my knowledge of Gestalt Psychology into the realm of Executive Coaching, Facilitation and Leadership/ Management Development. In 2001 I worked on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list, then went on to write my first book Becoming an Employer of Choice which was followed by Inspirational Manager and The Psychology of Success. Since then I have worked with organisations across the sectors from large corporates through to young start ups, public sector and charities. Now it’s time to help you have a love affair with your work and get exactly what you want from your career. To find out more about my work and coaching go to www.judithlearyjoyce.com