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Quit What's Not Working at Work!

Yesterday, a sharp young guy who currently works in finance made an observation: “I work in an office where there are a bunch of folks who just love number crunching! Unfortunately, even though I have a degree in it, I’m not one of them!” Wow! I both feel like he gets it and my heart goes out to him all at the same time. He gets the fact that as human beings, some of us are wired, gifted and proficient at doing things that others are not. My heart goes out to him because I know he feels stuck and not sure where he fits. What can you do if you know you don't fit where you are now? That was EXACTLY my situation in the mid 1990’s. I had the education, the experience and even the title. It just wasn’t me. I wasn't excited about Mondays. Nor Tuesdays.. Wednesdays.. You get the picture! I’d taken all the typical assessments. Myers Briggs. DiSC. Stength’s Finder. I was just stuck in the wrong place, doing the wrong things and feeling more and more drained by it. I was unmotivated and uninspired! What changed for me? It began with a very significant encounter with Ralph Mattson, the co-author of a book called “Finding a Job You Can Love.” I took advantage of an opportunity to go through Ralph's process based on understanding and deploying what he called “motivated abilities.” What I learned was that since I was young I naturally did certain things. These “motivated abilities” empowered me to be naturally curious, wired or energized to do them. It was my “bent.” And I typically, I did them because I found a sense of natural enjoyment, achievement or progress by doing them. Unfortunately, for many of us, we fail to intentionally connect our “motivated abilities” to our day to day work or the job we get paid to do. I later learned that Ralph’s work with me was based on the work of British psychologist Bernard Haldane and others. They studied how people worked best and realized the best way to equip war veterans returning from World War II was to understand their past patterns. Haldane realized the proficiencies they demonstrated in the military were the best predictor of the kinds of work they would both enjoy and succeed at doing when they returned. Along with Arthur Miller, Ralph Mattson then built upon that work in career and vocation training in the United States. I spent the next few years in the late 90’s into the early 2000’s learning from Ralph Mattson and hosting retreats with Ralph for others seeking to understand and apply their motivated abilities in their work. Those motivated patterns include:

  • What gets you going? Excites you? Prompts you to act?

  • What kinds of natural and learned abilities do you work with when you’re motivated?

  • How do you best work with other people to accomplish things?

  • What environment do you work best in?

  • How do you grow and learn in your own style?

  • What results do you achieve when you’re at your best?

Knowing those things gave me the ability to know three key things.


  1. Why I wasn’t thriving where I was. (I wasn’t using my motivated abilities very much.)

  2. Why I needed to be motivated to make a change.

  3. The kinds of things I needed to change to.

I so vividly remember going to hear Ralph Mattson speak to a business audience in Boston that same year. Ralph said, “Why is it that we put so much time and energy into putting a man on the moon, yet we hardly do anything to help a teenager determine what to major in or where to work when he or she graduates?”


This stuff isn’t rocket science! However I think it may just be more powerful!

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