Gallup’s research has become the industry standard when it comes to employee engagement. In their most recent report, they found several patterns of behavior to be unique to highly engaged employees. One survey question in particular caught my eye. Think about how you might answer about your own workplace. Are you spending too much time trying to do what does not come naturally to you? Here's the reality. First of all, with the exception of billionaires, almost everyone in this world has to do things that don’t come naturally to them. It’s part of being a mature adult. There are no career paths that don’t require people to endure at least some of that pain. Yes, we should all aim to make our natural skills the core of our work, but let’s not sit in the corner and pout just because we can’t lock into flow state every hour of the workday. That’s no reason to be disengaged at work.
ENLISTING -- Transferring the architecture behind your core talent to a mundane or overwhelming task
As for someone who spends too much time trying to do what does not come naturally to them is, consider the intention behind your work. Because our options for creating an engaging life are only limited by our own lack of imagination. That’s where the leverage is. We simply have to train ourselves to stop and ask this question. What part of me could be enlisted to make the unnatural natural? Zappos, whose team members are widely known for being the most engaged in the world, preaches and practices this form of leverage through their company values. People are encouraged to bring their weirdest, most unrelated passions to the work environment. One employee even wrote in their culture book, working here is like a game to see what part of ourselves we can bring to work every day. Do you think those employees complain about doing what does not come naturally to them? Not very often. Because they’ve learned how to integrate. How to make meaningful use of everything they are. Which is a skill can have a profound effect of your level of personal and professional fulfillment.
Writing was my first love. My first language. The one activity in my life that I honestly can’t remember not doing. Writing is one of the few places I can always go to figure out what matters most to me, and that makes it my biggest superpower. And yet, the leverage potential of that reality didn’t occur to me until my early thirties. One day while working at a job that sucked, it dawned on me. Wow, if you can find a way to make writing a part of something that doesn’t come naturally to you, then it will feel way more natural. This strategy works beautifully. Because whatever task or assignment or project that gets handed to me, at work or at home, leveraging my gift of writing immediately lowers the threat level of that activity. It doesn’t suddenly make that thing easy to do, but that thing certainly won’t scare the shit out of me anymore, simply because it doesn’t feel natural.
Look, work will still be work, and life will still be life. There is no avoiding at least some degree of struggle. But on the whole, if your intention is put yourself into position that taps into the best, highest version of who you are, there’s no reason you can feel engaged. What part of you could be enlisted to make the unnatural natural?
Effectively do work that doesn’t come naturally to you
Immediately lower the threat level of any work activity
Overcome fears of doing tasks outside of your skillset
Tap into the best, highest version of who you are and feel more engaged