Before becoming a consultant I spent 20 puzzled years in the military. Puzzled, because I was not a natural fit with the military. I was not a front-line soldier, I was an educator (a ‘schoolie’ in the Army vernacular) and spent much of my career teaching leadership and management, military history and international relations. This meant I spent a lot of my time questioning what the Army did and how they did it. It was not until I became a consultant that I found a natural fit and felt that I truly belonged in my chosen profession.
I therefore have a lot of sympathy and, I hope, understanding when individuals admit to a similar lack of fit. The conversation then is about how to help them understand how thay might get that sense of shared meaning in their life, or at least have a few touchpoints from where to begin that search. On one level it is about satisfying four fundamental needs: purpose, value, efficacy and self worth. Purpose is about achieving or doing things that are satisfying. Value is justifying what we do and giving it legitimacy. Efficiacy is doing things and achieving the intended result. While self worth is having confidence in what we do and believe.
On a more practical level, Ken Robinson believes it is about making the most of yourself, which, in a increasingly unpredicatable environment will make us more flexible and adaptable. In ‘Finding Your Element’ he talks of identifying your aptitude (a natural facility for something) and your passion (that which gives you deep delight and pleasure), having a positive attitude (drive and grit) and looking for opportunity (how we create and take opportunities). The aim is to be in your ‘element’, to be in the ‘zone’, where you lose track of time, feel you are doing what you are meant to be doing and being who you are meant to be. In short, it is about using your particular kind of intelligence in an optimal way.
But this is not all. By finding yourself you are likely to find your tribe, people who share your aptitude, passion and attitude. This can have a transformative effect on your sense of identity and purpose, but it is also how great teams form. People of your tribe will affirm that you are not alone and this will also enable collaborative ventures. They will inspire and provoke you to greater achievement. Furthermore, teams of like minded people offer the benefits of synegy. They are intensively interactive and finding new connections is how breakthroughs often occur. Every person’s intelligence is unique, like a fingerprint, and we all have something distinctive to offer, the key is to understand what that something is.