Why Your Giftedness May Be Holding You Back at Work

UPDATED: January 22, 2016
PUBLISHED: December 24, 2015

Being “gifted” is a great thing, but gifted personalities can also be perfectionists, introverts and underperformers in the workplace. If you’re a gifted adult, you need to recognize your gifted traits, understand how those traits may be holding you back and push through the setbacks that sometimes accompany them.

Not exactly sure what your specific gift is? Ask several different people what they think you’re best at. You’ll be surprised by what you discover. You’ll find a common thread in the answers—some answers may even seem like they were recited verbatim from someone else’s description.

If you don’t know whether your gift is holding you back, then answer these two questions: First, have you been denied a promotion? Second, does your boss choose less gifted employees for projects?

​If either of these situations relates to you, then you probably need to work on what I like to call “the three R’s.”

The Three R’s

Gifts are tools, and like any tool, they can cause serious damage if they aren’t handled correctly. Take a saw, for example. A saw can be used to craft something beautiful, or it can cut off your hand. Gifts are (figuratively) the same. They can be an asset or a liability, depending on how you use them.

Use these three R’s to avoid missing promotions—or appendages!

  • Realize: The first step to using your gift to help you be as successful as possible is to realize what it is and how it may be holding you back.
  • Respect: Once you figure out what your gift is, don’t brush it off. Respect your talent and understand its ability to help or hurt you.
  • Restraint: Use restraint when needed. Don’t be too overzealous, or you may end up abusing your gift and skirting success as a result.

Once you discover what your gift is, you need to figure out what to do with it—but be careful. If any one of the three R’s is missing, exercise caution moving forward.

Traits That May Be Holding You Back at Work

Charisma and passion can be wonderful gifts, but they can also quickly get you into trouble.

Charisma can unite people, or it can start a war. If your gift is being charismatic, then you should probably take a step back and review the three R’s. Use your charisma for good, not evil. If you disagree with or dislike your boss, don’t use your charisma to rally your colleagues to your side. That will probably get you fired pretty quickly.

Passion, like charisma, needs to be kept in check. When your passion runs away with you, you’re no longer passionate—you’re maniacal. Don’t let passion take over and control you, no matter the circumstances. Passionate people without restraint become easily frustrated and bitter. They tend to openly retaliate or secretly distance themselves, both of which lead to dead ends.

Whatever your gifts are, be careful how you use them, but don’t be afraid to reach your full potential. Remember: Respect and restraint are just as important as realizing where your talents lie.

Use Your Giftedness to Find Success

Knowing how to communicate effectively is a huge part of being successful. However, you can be a skilled communicator and have zero talent in every other area, which obviously limits your opportunity for success. Ironically, the No. 1 skill needed to be successful in any workplace is not one specific skill at all; it’s the ability to manifest both talent—your gift—and communication.

You’d think that recognizing your own giftedness would be easy, but some of the most talented people in the world are unaware of their potential—not because they’re humble, but because they can’t see the obvious. What is obviously exceptional about you to others seems natural, normal and even easy to you, so you don’t give it much thought.

You have a gift, no doubt about it. And that gift can help you be successful in your career—you just need to figure out what it is so you can learn how to use it appropriately.

Do you want people to like you? Make sure you follow the 10 best practices for making a good impression.

Brook Price is president and co-founder of Forte Strong, a failure-to-launch program that gives young men the skills and character traits they need to tackle the challenges of life. Brook has more than 15 years of experience working for some of the most prestigious leadership programs in the nation, most notably Outward Bound and the U.S. Marine Corps.