On another blog to which I contribute, this question came from a young woman I’ll call Beth: “Why do people get noticed sometimes for the talents they hate, rather than the skills that give them joy or a purpose?”
I think most of us have been in this position and would love to hear your thoughts about a solution or solutions for people like Beth, who have much to contribute but have been pigeonholed to tasks that de-motivate them.
This was my response: Beth, I can feel the frustration in your question and completely identify with it. When I started out in my career, my first role was that of statistician because I was really good at math. I could only stand that role for about eight months before it began to truly drain my energy. So I looked for ways to contribute that used the strengths I love to use, even when that involved taking on volunteer projects.
People don’t know how your talents either energize you or drain you and they don’t have the bandwidth, usually, to even think like that. They just know they need someone with a particular strength or talent, and when they find someone, they see it as a match.
The key here is that no one else can possibly be as good an advocate for you as you, because no one else can know how each role affects you. Here is what you might try: think about those talents and strengths that you enjoy using, and that energize you, and find ways to promote them. Let’s say you are a great writer, but it isn’t the bulk of your position. Find ways to showcase your writing by volunteering to put together a white paper, or write a blog for the social media for your organization.
Have a conversation with your supervisor and let them know you would like to use more of your talents and strengths, and be prepared to show them how that will add value. You can let this be a game where you are constantly looking for ways to promote your other skills, talents and abilities with demonstrations of those very abilities.
We have to make the invisible visible so that others realize what a variety of gifts we bring.