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Personal Talents- What Do You Do Best?
By Rich Meiss • Friday, February 8, 2008

The People Puzzle Series lV: Puzzle Piece #2
One of the greatest contributions to our life’s puzzle is finding meaningful work – especially when that work utilizes our natural talents. Your choice of occupation influences many things in your life: what you do each day, who your colleagues and friends are, what kind of clothes you wear, and how much money you earn. Yet many people are doing work for which they are ill-suited, or doing things that they don’t like to do. A recent survey suggested that as many as 80% of America’s workers don’t like what they do. 
There are many reasons for this, but often it boils down to one of these:
1.    Most people do not know what they do best – their natural talents – so they end up in a job that does not suit them well.
2.    Many people just took a job because it was available, it was close to where they lived, or it paid a pretty good wage.
3.    Sometimes people take a job to please someone else – a parent or spouse, and yet that is not what they want or they are not suited to the job.
4.    Some people feel trapped in their current job because of health insurance,  family responsibilities, or enticing retirement plans.
Right or wrong, good or bad, our work has a huge impact on how we think about ourselves, because we identify more closely with our jobs than with anything else. When asked what we are going to be when we grow up, we usually respond with an occupation such as “a teacher,” “a baseball player,” “a doctor,” etc. We never say we are going to be a good citizen, a father or mother, a good lover, or a mid-westerner. And yet those things also define who we are. Our occupation defines us much more than anything else in our society. It is therefore very important to think about what we want our work to be. This chapter will help you discover your natural talents and lead you to the kind of work and hobbies that energize and fulfill you.
Although there are a number of occupational models that we could use here, we have chosen one that has been used effectively and is proven. Created by Psychology Professor John Holland at Johns Hopkins University, this model has helped tens of thousands to make informed career choices for over 70 years. Holland theorized that there are six basic categories of occupations. He labeled these - (R) Realistic, (I) Investigative, (A) Artistic, (S) Social, (E) Enterprising, and (I) Conventional.
These categories can be thought of as a hexagon, with the categories most alike located next to each other. Most people have a combination of these as natural talents, bringing a nice blend of interests to the workplace. Sometimes these combinations are next to each other on the hexagon, although it is not uncommon to have interests on opposite sides.
                            Realistic                                      Investigative
             Conventional                                                                                        Artistic
                             Enterprising                                Social
Realistic: These are mainly skilled trades or technical jobs, usually involving work with tools or machines.
Investigative: These are mostly scientific and laboratory jobs, where people investigate how the world is put together.
Artistic: These tend to be creative jobs where people work with words, music or art.
Social: These jobs involve working with people – teaching, healing, or serving in some way.
Enterprising: These jobs involve persuading others to do something, such as selling, politics, or merchandising.
Conventional: These are usually office jobs where people work to organize things, put schedules together, and manage details.
The Realistic Type: “Let’s Just Do It”
Realistics are usually rugged, practical, physically strong outdoor types. They often have good physical coordination, but might have trouble expressing themselves in words. They tend to have a few close friends rather than be involved in large groups of people.
Realistics are outdoor types, and they like to work with machines. They might be involved in agriculture, construction, engineering or police work. They prefer hands-on experiences and concrete problems to solve   They enjoy spending their money on recreational equipment (boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles) and tools.
Natural talents for the realistic would include:
            Mechanical aptitude
            Taking physical risks
            Operating heavy equipment
            Organizing supplies or implements
            Building things and fixing things
            Manual dexterity
The Investigative Type: “Let’s Solve This Puzzle”
Investigatives love to figure things out. Their work usually involves charts and graphs, numbers and formulas, and data about many things. They are often found in research labs or clinical settings, or working on the theoretical aspects of business such as research and reports in advertising, marketing or finance. Investigatives like to work alone and are task-oriented. They are not particularly interested in working around or with other people. Their tasks often involve computers, microscopes, telescopes or other scientific type equipment. They spend their money on software or scientific books.
Natural talents for the investigative would include:
            Computer aptitude
            Solving complex problems
The Artistic Type: “Let’s Create Something
Artistics like to work in open, free environments that allow them to express themselves in a wide variety of ways, including music, drawing, photography, crafts, etc. Their work is often found in art or music departments, theater groups, radio or television studios, and other places where artistic skills can be utilized. Artistics like to work alone or with one or two others on projects that allow for individual expression. They are more interested in the process of creation than the end result. Their money would be spent on musical or artistic purchases.
Natural talents for the artistic would include:
            Musical expression
            Creative design of space
            Creative problem solving
The Social Type: “Let’s Get Together”
Socials are cooperative, helpful, service-oriented and people-oriented. They like to work in small groups rather than alone and they are concerned with the welfare of others. Their work is often in schools, religious organizations, health care, or in service type jobs in business. They dislike working with machinery or with numbers, data and things. Their day to day activities involve working with people, and if they don’t have that in their work, they look for it in volunteer activities. Socials spend their money on getting friends together and helping others.
Natural talents for the social would include:
            Listening and facilitating
            Counseling others
            Showing empathy and tact
The Enterprising Type: “Let’s Make It Happen”
Enterprisers are the persuaders and natural leaders of the world. They enjoy competitive activities and like to work in groups where they can influence others. They have great verbal abilities, which makes them excellent at selling, leading and persuading. They are adventuresome, confident risk takers with strong drives to achieve personal and organizational goals. Job categories for this group would include sales, politics, business executives, and consultants. Enterprisers value money and material possessions. They tend to spend their money on nice cars, jewelry, country clubs and trips.
Natural talents for the enterpriser would include:
            Leadership and management
            Selling and persuasion
            Taking action
            Public speaking
            Taking risks
The Conventional Type: “Let’s Be Dependable”
Conventionals like life to be orderly and go according to plan. Although they do not seek out leadership positions, they do fit well into large organizations, especially when they understand their role and responsibilities. They like to work indoors in comfortable working conditions with regular hours. Their work roles include bookkeeper, computer operator, financial analyst, secretary, accountant and analyst. 
Although not usually given much recognition, conventionals are often the “glue” that holds an organization together. They tend to save their money rather than spend it.
Natural talents for the conventional would include:
            Attention to detail
            Organizing and arranging
            Managing time and priorities
            Appraising and evaluating
            Calculation and math skills
My Talents Story
Although I was not introduced to the idea of personal talents as a young man, I was fortunate enough to have some direction to pursue a college career and eventually chose teaching as my college major. I’m grateful today as I look back over my career that my natural interests seemed to help shape my choices. Because I score highest in the social and entrepreneurial talents areas, my choices of becoming a teacher and eventually a business speaker and trainer have served me well. Perhaps largely through happenstance and following my instincts, I was able to find work that fit my natural talents.
I often reflect on the experiences of so many of my seminar participants, however, who have made career and life choices based on someone else’s wishes, or just because there was a job available. I shudder to think about what I would have missed in life if I had taken that same path. Having been born and raised on a farm, there was some expectation from my parents and other family members that I would be a farmer. Most of my cousins and other relatives took the path of staying on the family farm, and many of them are still there today. At a recent reunion, one cousin complained that he is still doing the same things today (feeding cattle and hauling “manure” as he put it) that he was doing 30-40 years ago. His tone of voice indicated to me that he was not happy with that choice. As I think back on my experience, I realize that I would have been equally unhappy with the profession of Agriculture because I am not naturally designed to be a farmer. The realistic talents of building/fixing things, operating heavy equipment and mechanical aptitude so necessary for success in farming (not to mention the intelligences of Nature Smarts and Numbers Smarts) are my lowest scores on these surveys. I was not naturally designed to be a farmer, no matter how “motivated” others wanted me to be in doing that job. Life is too short not to be “living by design and living by choice”!
The Personal Talents Survey ($12.00) will help you to determine your gifts and talents. You may discover you are doing exactly what you are most suited for, or you may to decide to pursue a whole new career in life. Free shipping if you mention this article when placing your order for the survey.
© Copyright 2008. Meiss Education Institute. All rights reserved.
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