In his book The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin writes, “If you’ve announced that you have no talent (in anything!), then you’re hiding.” We all have innate and learned talents; when we deny these abilities we hide from ourselves—and from fulfilling work opportunities.
When it comes to a career search, you simply can’t move forward when you’re stuck hiding in place.
In my work as a career coach, I meet a lot of people who hide from what they can contribute to the world. The very things that flow naturally for us are often the things that we have the hardest time appreciating as professional skills. In fact, many of us denigrate and run away from these passions and skills throughout our careers.
Let me give you an example: I once worked with a man (I’ll call him David) who grew up fascinated by animals. David excelled in his science classes, and as a child he was outside observing squirrels or birds almost daily. He told everyone he wanted to be like Crocodile Dundee when he grew up. As David got older, his parents, teachers, and friends started chipping away at his affinity for animals. It wasn’t “cool” to want to go to the zoo as a 16 year-old, and David was told he needed to pursue a “real” profession in college, like finance or marketing.
Fast forward to when I met David: He hardly ever engaged with wildlife. Animals had no place in his life, and he was in a stuffy office job he couldn’t stand. He wanted a change, but had no idea what other kinds of jobs he would enjoy or be good at. Can you guess what we zeroed in on as a potential avenue for career fulfillment?
His love of wildlife! David was afraid to admit that he still wanted to work with animals, especially given that he’d take a major pay cut and could be ridiculed for pursuing work that was so different from what his peers valued. But without animals in his life, David was lost; it was a core piece of his identity, and unless he wanted to live and die in that stuffy office, it had to be honored for the gift that it was.
Today, David is taking classes to expand his knowledge of animal biology and has a weekly practice of intentionally engaging with wildlife. Slowly but surely, his passions and talents are being re-ignited.
So what are you hiding from? What career paths feel exciting—but also scary–to you? Are you talking yourself out of a career that you’ll love? In her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.” What limitations do you set for yourself when you want to avoid living out your purpose?