Career

To use your talent, you must first realize that you have a talent.

Retired professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard (b. 1956) was quoted in a speaking engagement at Harvard: “I consider myself blessed. I consider you blessed. We’ve all been blessed with God-given talents. Mine just happens to be beatin’ people up.” Taking it off from Leonard, what could be your talent? Or to put it more clearly — what’s your number one God-given talent?

As a business journalist and kaizen advocate, I often find myself criticizing many acts or omissions of people and organizations. I can’t help but to say my piece no matter who gets hurt. This often contradicts what we learned from our parents — “If you have nothing good to say about others, say nothing at all.” If we heed our parents, then that would be catastrophic to many of us sitting in silence while suffering and revolting inside. If you’re like me who hates mediocrity and dishonesty (among others) being done in the workplace, then what would you do?

Rolf Dobelli, in “The Art of Thinking” (2013) has the best answer: “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” In psychology, this technique is called “framing.” Dobelli illustrates “framing” in the case of a group of researchers presenting a group of consumers with two kinds of meat. One meat is branded as “99 percent fat free,” and the other kind of meat as “1 per cent fat.”

Which type of meat was chosen by the respondents? The first kind — “99 percent fat free” was chosen over “1 percent fat” despite the fact that they mean the same thing. It’s funny, isn’t it?

But that’s what we’re also doing in management consulting. We often refer to problems as “opportunities” or “challenges” rather than something that is too negative for many of us to avoid it like a plague.

2015 is an exciting year for many us to start using “framing.” I’m sure it will be fun and relaxing to think of all the good things in work and family life. If you’re looking for ways to rekindle your relationship with your colleagues and family members, let’s share our talents to others. Then, let them figure out by reading between the lines.

Incidentally, that needs special talent too.

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