You know those times in life when you have poured everything you have into something because you couldn’t help it? It was as if you were driven by some internal source of energy, excitement and sense of ownership. The feeling that experience when you find out that thing that you worked so hard on works and takes on an energy of its own, is indescribable! Some people call this being “in the zone” or “the sweet spot” but whether it was an incredible meal you made, piece of art you created, a relationship, or dare I say, your work— we have all had a taste of that feeling and long for it again, but we don’t always know how to get “back” there to recreate that experience.
There may not be an exact science to it, but I have definitely found the TOP (Talent, Opportunity, and Passion) model helps me re-focus and direct my time and energy into areas and activities where I have the best chance of finding that level of purpose, satisfaction, impact, and accomplishment again.
The TOP model was first suggested by Jim Collins, a leadership and business strategy scientist, teacher, and author of books such as Good to Great and Built to Last. The goal of the TOP model is to empower anyone to discover their best by finding those areas where their talents, present opportunities, and personal passions align. In this intersection, Jim says, and I concur from personal experience and application, is where we operate the most effectively in terms of the value we bring to those around us and our employer as well as where we feel the greatest sense of satisfaction and energy.
Interested in finding out what this looks like for you? Getting started is easy.
First, identify and make a list of each of the following.
Feel free to be as specific or vague as you like – just be honest.
1. Your Talents
a. What comes naturally to you?
b. What do you find others coming to you for or asking for you to do often?
c. What roles do you naturally take on in a group project or activity?
d. What do you excel at?
2. Your Passions
a. What do you love?
b. What motivates you to get up in the morning? (It can also be very helpful to identify what does NOT motivate you.)
c. What would you do even if you didn’t get paid for it?
d. What stirs emotion in you (positive or negative)?
3. Your Opportunities
a. Existing immediate opportunities (what small or big things could you choose to do – or not do today)?
b. Existing potential future opportunities (may take some planning and intention, but they are there)?
c. Opportunities (career or otherwise) you wish existed – dream big – they may be out there or yet to be created, but you never know until you let it be a possibility?
Next, take a look at your lists and maybe even put them in a Venn diagram like the one above and identify intersections.
Example 1: You may be passionate about being creative and innovative, talented at business intelligence analytics, and see that an amazing company called Decisive Data is hiring Data Analysts and BI Developers.
Aha! You may have found a career opportunity that allows you to live Life on TOP!
Example 2: Maybe you are passionate about serving others, you are talented at organizing events, and you think up a new opportunity at your current job as a grocery clerk to organize an event to collect canned goods for a local food bank.
Although this opportunity is additional to your defined “roles and responsibilities” as a grocery clerk, not only will it be incredibly satisfying because you are doing something you love and are good at, but the store managers will see that this is a valuable and rewarding talent that you have and are not afraid to use it which could lead to many opportunities for promotions or career advancement to better align your strengths and passions with the company and business.
You get the idea. So go ahead and get started. Remember what you love to do and identify what comes easily to you and you will have a compass in your career and life by which to both guide your decisions about saying yes or no to opportunities that come up as well as give you motivation to seek and create opportunities that will enable you to live in your sweet spot and before you know it, you are on TOP!
Posted by Brianna Fulghum-Behen