Seven Signs You’re Wasting Your Talent | LinkedIn
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Seven Signs You’re Wasting Your Talent | LinkedIn

Great article by Liz Ryan!  Not all employers deserve you.  Make sure you and your work are appreciated and recognized, or find another employer.

Seven Signs You’re Wasting Your Talent | LinkedIn.

When we teach career development courses, we start with the basics:

You were born, so you have a reason to be here. You have a little flame inside you, and you’ve had it since you were tiny. Your job is to grow that flame. How will you do that? You’ll do it by listening carefully to your heart and to your body. You’ll be receptive to cues from the universe, no matter what form they take.

You’ll see your job search and your career not as a series of X + Y = Z transactions but as a journey. You’ll keep getting closer and closer to the thing that you were born to do, and your flame will grow in the process.

Traditionally job-seekers have not been taught that they have a flame to grow. They’ve been taught the opposite – that they’re lucky to have a job at all. Why would we believe that?

The earth is a natural system and a living organism. Surely everyone who is born on this planet deserves a shot at whatever the force-in-charge put him or her here to do. So the fearful notion “Be happy you have a job, and be content with it” is an insult not only to the person to whom it’s directed but to all of us and to whatever power we put our faith in.

Who would believe the lie that we’re meant to have a job, go home, turn on the TV, take a vacation once a year and then die? There must be more to this existence, and of course there is. We can make a mark. We can see things our own way and share that vision with other people. We can make the world better when we leave it than when we came in.

We can do it in our professional lives. A job is not a painful burden whose purpose is to fund the good parts of life. Your job should be one of the best parts of your life, but most of us have sucked down gallons of toxic lemonade in the form of the message “No, no – that’s asking too much of your job.”

When your flame is growing at work, you can’t wait to get there. You can’t wait to talk to the customers and vendors and brainstorm with your co-workers.

We had that energy at U.S. Robotics for years, not only when the company was tiny but also when it was large. We would not insult salaried employees with an attendance policy. We hired them, for Pete’s sake – why would we track their movements?

There is no sense in fear-based management. The Godzilla system in place in most large companies and institutions isn’t run on common sense but on a bizarre and self-referential Business Logic instead. Here’s an example:

Why do you talk that way on the phone sometimes, Dad? You sound like a different person then.

Well, those are business conversations, son. I speak differently in the business world.

Why, Dad?

Because it’s business, son. It’s more formal.

Why is that?

Because it’s business, like I said. It’s different from normal life.


Stop asking questions, son.

If you aren’t growing your flame, your body will let you know. You’ll get headaches and your sleep will suffer. Your back will give out or you’ll catch cold. You can’t fool Mother Nature. When you are not in the right place, the signals will start to show up.

I threw out my back and was carried on a stretcher to the hospital, as undignified a procession as you can imagine. At the hospital they gave me a muscle relaxant and nuclear-strength painkillers and didn’t even inquire about what might have led to my spine’s revolt. It isn’t our habit in the industrialized west to ask penetrating “Why?” questions.

That is changing now! We are realizing that our bodies aren’t separate from our conscious brains. When the body isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Here are seven signs you’re wasting your talent in the job you’ve got.

Your Resume Isn’t Changing

Once a year it’s a good idea to pull out your resume and update it. If you look at your resume and you can’t change anything on it because you haven’t learned anything new, taken on any new responsibility or had any notable accomplishment, it’s time to go. When you aren’t moving forward you are sliding back, because time moves on. If your job consists of repetition of the same old duties, your dammed-up forward energy is hurting you and the paycheck is not enough to keep you there.

Your Star Isn’t Rising

Whether or not you want to get promoted or become a household name, it’s reasonable to want some recognition for your contribution. If you plod forward an inch at a time on the job and the people who could influence your career path (or share some words acknowledging your impact) don’t do it, you’re wasting your gifts. You have big things to offer the rest of us, and you won’t be able to do that if the folks around you can’t see what you bring.

Your Flame Isn’t Growing

Your flame grows when you turn inward to retrace your path and get the learning from it. Your flame flickers and starts to go out when you beat up on yourself or let other people do it. Your flame burns more brightly when you step outside your comfort zone and remind yourself that you are an insanely awesome person with tremendous talents to share. Your flame diminishes when you let people tell you what you won’t achieve and what you can’t do. Why not step out there and do what they said you couldn’t? Living well is the best revenge!

Your Muscles Aren’t Getting Bigger

How do your muscles grow? There’s only one way — you have to use them. Your vocal cords are muscles, and so is your truth-telling core. Use it and see how it gets stronger! You’ll be bench-pressing 500 lbs. of insulting Godzilla dogma once your truth-telling muscles reach their proper size.

If you’re not getting better at spotting and calling attention to stupid, talent-repelling and anti-human statements, ideas, practices and policies at work, then your truth-telling muscles are atrophying. They are getting weaker. Get yourself into a place where you can find your voice and speak your truth, a little more every day.

Your Sphere of Influence Isn’t Expanding

In the right job people will notice what you do and thank you for it, even though it’s your job. People will ask you to take on more and try new things, once they see what you can handle. You will develop a fan club and they’ll help expand your influence beyond your department and your organization. In the wrong job people will guard their work and their contacts because they fear that to share them is to give away power. They’ll work to keep your influence from expanding. Do you want to spend your energy in political squabbles, or changing the world?


ABISHEK: Don, have you got a second?

DON: Sure, what’s up?

ABISHEK: Yesterday at our meeting, when you mentioned that you’re going to put together a first-half IT recap for the VP meeting, were you thinking about making that presentation? Because if you like, I’d be happy to speak to the VPs about what we’ve been doing.

DON: Yeah? You’re comfortable with that? They ask tough questions!

ABISHEK: I’m stoked to do it. If you have time to spend an hour with me anticipating the VPs’ questions and helping me formulate answers, I’d be excited to have that conversation with them. I’m proud of what we’ve done.

DON: That’s fantastic. I’ll send you my notes and then we can talk about what else should go in that presentation. I’m thinking of a 15-minute talk. Does that sound right?

ABISHEK: That’s great. I really want to get their thoughts on the new dashboard. I’m not sure they realize we built that in-house.

DON: I love it. You just took a major headache off my plate.

ABISHEK: Cool. Have a great weekend!


ABISHEK: Don, have you got a second?

DON: Sure, what’s up?

ABISHEK: Last week at the meeting, you mentioned making a presentation to the VPs about our first-half results in IT. Have you thought about who you’d like to design and deliver that presentation?

DON: Well, I have to give it to Rich. He knows the VPs. They’re comfortable with him.

ABISHEK: Does Rich want to do it?

DON: No, he hates that stuff, but I can’t throw someone else in there, even you, even my star player, they’d be like “Where’s Rich?”

ABISHEK: Why is that, Don?

DON: Old-school network, man. No new information, no new faces if we can help it.

ABISHEK: What about me and Rich presenting as a team?

DON: Listen Abishek, I didn’t tell you this, but two months ago at the VP meeting I said “I’d like to move Abishek into a leadership role, because he gets things done.” The feedback I got was “Let Abishek hit his five year anniversary with the company and we’ll think about it.” Sorry to hit you with that.

ABISHEK: That’s two and a half more years! I’ve been pushing a rock uphill so long already…

DON: I mean, it’s a job, right?

Your Marketability Isn’t Improving

It’s bad when your job destroys your mojo, but it only adds insult to injury when the job trashes your marketability, too. That’s what happens when you work for an employer nobody views as smart or forward-looking. It happens when you don’t learn new things you can bring to your next organization.

Your marketability plummets when you don’t have new Dragon-Slaying Stories to tell, and that happens when you don’t get to do anything new.

No employer is worth damaging your resume for. You’re better off contracting and gaining new resume fodder than becoming a person who does the same thing day after day for years on end. Who’s excited about hiring a person like that, a person with his gut instincts stifled and flame nearly snuffed?

You’re Not Moving Down Your Path

Your job has to move you down your path toward the future you envision for yourself. If that isn’t happening, don’t freak out – just start working on your resume and thanking the stars for the message “ENOUGH!” that you’re receiving now.

The “Aha!” you might be experiencing is the first step. Everything else will fall into line when you remember that nobody has the right to dim your flame.

If they don’t get you, they don’t deserve you — and if you’re casting your pearls before swine, you’re better off letting your talents shine forth on a bigger, brighter stage!


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