What Have We Learned (WHWL) is a weekly column by TAtech CEO Peter Weddle that examines what will endure after the Covid-19 pandemic ends. It asks what positive can we extract from the negative experience of this contagion? And, it answers that question with this simple truth: The best way to recover from a crisis is to focus on the knowledge we have gained while passing through it.
So, What Have We Learned from the Covid-19 pandemic: The right stuff is required, the best stuff has impact.
Amidst all the frustration and anxiety of Covid-19, we are also experiencing some of humankind’s best moments on almost a daily basis. Despite being cooped up with – pick whatever matches – yourself, your spouse or partner, your kids, your mother or father-in-law, your pet and/or a roommate, lots of us are showing an amazing propensity for making a difference.
Appropriately, a lot of that activity has been devoted to thanking healthcare workers, EMS techs, cops and firefighters, bus and subway drivers, postal carriers and even waste disposal workers. From window signs and drive by parades for nurses and docs to balcony concerts for neighbors and birthday card campaigns for the elderly, people are tapping a seemingly boundless well of creativity and ingenuity to share their talents with one another.
Certainly, no one is telling them they should embark on such endeavors. Nor even, is anyone asking them to. They are simply doing it on their own because … well, that’s the kind of person they are. They are taking the initiative to reach out and help others in a thousand and one different ways. They are demonstrating the myriad possible expressions of talent.
Back in the day, before this contagion swept through our cities and towns, these people were almost certainly considered valuable contributors at work. They had important expertise, to be sure, but they also had something else. Something that may not have been visible to or even formally recognized by their employer but, which set them apart from everyone else. They had an enlarged view of what they can and should do on-the-job.
These individuals don’t see the accomplishment of job tasks as the definition of their work. To them, responsibilities and project assignments are welcome invitations to color outside the lines. To think like an artist and express their skills with imagination and inventiveness. To have an impact rather than simply do what is required. It’s an attribute that transforms the right stuff into the best stuff, the ordinary into the extraordinary. It is talent in action.
What About In Recruiting?
Talent is not expertise or experience or even competence. It is, instead, the combination of two factors: what a person can do especially well and what they love to do. That nexus of excellence exists within each and all of us. Indeed, talent is a universal trait in our species. Like our opposable thumb, it is an attribute that defines being human.
But wait, if everyone has talent, why is it so hard to recruit? Sadly, the answer to that question is as simple as it is profound. Hardly any of us have been given the freedom or the tools required to discover our talent. In truth, it’s not a lack of the trait that makes talent scarce, but our lack of self-knowledge that prevents many of us from bringing it to work with us.
That’s not to point a finger, but instead to point out what most of us already know. We may be good at getting a job done, but we don’t truly love the work involved and therefore aren’t performing at our peak. We aren’t experiencing our pinnacle of personal excellence – the pure, unconstrained joy of being the best we can be – and as a consequence, we aren’t doing all that we can to advance our employer’s success.
Recruiting, therefore, is (or should be) more than simply matching a person’s skills and experience to a job spec. To find people of talent means searching for those who can and will apply their expertise with passion. Who will deliver extraordinary work because they are doing what they do best and what they love to do. Who don’t want a job, but instead want to have an impact.