As a strengths trainer and coach, I help folks to understand their talented behaviors so they can make the most of them. It’s exciting to see people come alive to their talents and apply them to relationships, work, and life.
For example, I’ve seen people start to give themselves permission for taking time to think because thinking is what they’re good at. I’ve seen people embrace their decisiveness because that’s their power. I’ve seen people foster their competitive side because that’s how they thrive. In short, I’ve seen people become more of who they are.
It’s always thrilling to be part of someone’s becoming.
But as exciting as this has been, there’s still a missing piece. Working with talents is one thing but working with motivation is another. This is to say, talented behaviors are not the same as motivations. In order to become who you really are, you have to work with both.
Working with your talents is understanding areas of giftedness, aiming them toward positive outcomes, and growing them intentionally. But working with your motivations is deeper work, even soul work (and frankly not everyone wants to go there). It’s uncovering the reasons behind behavior, the causes behind action, the things that are really driving you.
In other words, talents are the golden what, and motivations are the golden why. If you don’t understand your why, your talents may take you where you never intended to go.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you’re good in relationships. You can pick up what others are feeling and can always spot a need. Because of this, you help people often. On the outside, this looks great—everyone loves a helper!
But on the inside, things look different. You’re unsure of yourself and don’t think people will like the real you, so you keep all attention off yourself. You help others in order to hide your own needs.
Or let’s say you’re good at working hard. You excel in your career and have advanced at a rapid pace. Because of this, you’re known as a high achiever. On the outside, this looks great—look how successful you are!
But on the inside, things look different. You try to gain the approval of others through your blazing accomplishments instead of being truly known. You use your achievements to cover the real you.
Or let’s say you’re good at keeping the peace. You keep things calm and are known for being pleasant. Because of this, people know you’ll keep things light. On the outside, this looks great—it’s easy to be in a relationship with you!
But on the inside, things look different. You squelch your own opinion and forget yourself in order to avoid conflict. You get along with everyone, so you don’t have to risk rejection.
Can you see how surreptitious this can be? If left unchecked, your talents can undo you. They may get good results, but what is happening to your soul? All along you think you’re improving yourself, but you’re digging yourself into a hole.
That is why working with talents and motivations is a more complete work.