Have you ever worked hard at a sport, study, job or other activity, only to be told how “lucky” you are that you are so athletic, smart or gifted?
The media has become obsessed with Australia’s so-called ‘Talent Shortage’ and the ‘War for Talent’. Managers within small and large organisations are falling over themselves to hand out huge pay packets and cool perks (from international travel through to iPods).
Allow me to let you in on a secret – there is no ‘Talent Shortage’.
Even better, you can use the myth of the Talent Shortage to your own advantage within your career.
There are very few truly talented people in the world. Most people who are perceived as ‘talented’ have actually worked very hard to get as good as they are. They may have begun with a certain amount of interest, or a little natural aptitude, but the reason they have become so good in their chosen field is because they have put in the time to study, train, learn and grow.
In short, they have developed a high level of competence in their jobs. This makes them highly sought after employees – and, since many people have not bothered to develop the same level of competence in their jobs, these are the people over whom the so-called ‘War for Talent’ is waged.
If we’re not really talking about ‘talent’ but rather about a learned level of competence, then anyone who is willing to put the work in can become the ‘talent’, with everything that entails – high levels of remuneration, company perks and high chances for advancement and promotion.
And all you need to do to be that person is to increase your level of competence in your field.
One of the greatest indicators of competence is Emotional Quotient, or EQ.
It is people’s level of EQ that determines how they react to other people and to situations. It also determines the likelihood of a person being driven and focused enough to achieve the kind of competence that is often mistaken for talent.
Fortunately, EQ is the easiest quotient to increase.
Have your EQ levels tested and, if necessary, look into some coaching or training in this area to help you improve any areas where you may be deficient.
In Australia, there tends to be some stigma associated with the idea of personal development.
However, ongoing coaching – either personal or business – is generally considered to be the mark of a mature and highly developed person who realises that they don’t know everything and who is driven and ambitious enough to seek help.
All of the world’s top business and sports people recognise the importance of coaching in their professional careers and often in their personal lives.
There are other ways to increase your levels of competence:
- Ensure that you take any and all opportunities for education within your organisation, regardless of whether they appear to relate to your current position or not. Not only will you learn more about the ways in which other parts of the organisation work, you are also sending a clear signal to managers that you are interested in more than your job.
- Look for training opportunities outside of your organisation. If your organisation won’t pay for you to attend – do so out of your own pocket.
- Consider enrolling in a TAFE or University course. Through organisations like Open Learning, you can now complete some University degrees online, allowing you to study in your own time and thus not requiring any absence from work.
- Subscribe to trade magazines and online newsletters that pertain to your industry. The more you read and know, the more you are able to apply to your job and the more competent you will become.
All of these activities will build your level of competence, making you more employable, highly sought-after within your industry and eligible for higher remuneration.
Most people never excel at their job. They concentrate only on their pay cheque and spend the day watching the clock.
There’s an old saying that goes: ‘You enjoy those things you are good at.’ By becoming good at your job, you will learn to enjoy it – and also enjoy the perks available to those who are ‘talented’.
No one needs to know that the only reason you are more ‘talented’ than them is because you put in the effort. Let them think it’s luck, while you reap the rewards!
Anders Sorman-Nilsson is Managing Director and founder of Thinque, a corporate training and coaching firm employing the latest in cutting-edge human communication methodologies for Generation X and Y clients. www.thinque.com.au