Peter Weddle, CEO of HR and employment specialty publisher Weddle's LLC, said American workers - including talent managers - are struggling to achieve career success with half their brains tied behind their backs.
"Career success begins with a good understanding of who we are as individuals. Our characteristics, believes, principles, values, all of that you have to know before you can figure out what you're passionate about. The problem is that information doesn't come to us intuitively," Weddle explained. "We have to work at understanding what that unique person inside us is all about."He said the challenge is that every person/worker has a preferred way of thinking about thinking about things. Creative people rely more on the right hemisphere of the brain and seldom use the left. Analytical people rely on the left hemisphere and seldom use the right. Thus, we end up only using half of our inherent talents.
His book, Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A Fable About Being True to Yourself, attempts to make it easier for the average worker to find out who he or she is, what he or she is trying to become and how to tap into inherent talents. Encouraging the reader to use creative energy to try and answer those questions, the book also offers a self-interview to explore the analytical side of the brain and reason through questions that may reveal what a person values, believes in and hopes to leave behind as a legacy at work.
Some of the questions include: Does the significance of doing something truly different influence how you feel about it? Are you affected by what you will have to accomplish in order to make a difficult change in your life? And can you really change the circumstances that affect your day?
The book's premise is based on research done by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Weddle said during the course of his research, which involved thousands of interviews with high- and low-profile workers, Csikszentmihalyi found that no matter what workers did or how long they'd been doing it, people often had optimal experiences when they were confronted with a meaningful challenge and then stretched to their limits and beyond to meet that challenge or accomplish a goal.
"The single greatest milieu in which that kind of goal stretching occurs is at work," Weddle said. "Recognize yourself in both dimensions of your life. Of course you want to be authentic in your personal or social relationships. You want to be authentic with your family and friends. If you do that, you experience an emotional state called joy. That's only half the story. If you're equally authentic and passionate about who you are, and you bring that person to work, you will experience a cognitive state called happiness.
"The bottom line is, be joyful, but be happy too. Don't forget that work is just as great an opportunity to express your own true self as the rest of your life is. HR people talk about work-life balance as if work has to be balanced with all the good things that happen in life. That's true, but it's also important to balance your life with all the good things that can happen at work.
"The fundamentals of our economy may be in trouble, but the fundamentals of our character are not," Weddle said. "This is the very moment when working strong is just as important as living strong. If you can do that in this environment, you can do that anytime. And that will serve you well for the rest of your working life."
[About the Author: Kellye Whitney is managing editor for Talent Management magazine.]