Have you ever known someone who can play the piano without ever having a lesson, or someone who can do complex math in their head without breaking a sweat? Some people are just born with talent – a natural ability or gift that comes without having had any special training. Even if you don’t have raw talent in any given field, some skills can be developed and honed over time through study and practice. And then there are those talents that are simply out of reach no matter how hard you try – like how, for most of us, being an Olympic figure skater just isn’t going to happen. So maybe you’re not a creative genius. Maybe you have no natural ability with math, or magnetic charm and intuitive people skills, and maybe you don’t even know what a triple sow cow is, let alone being able to perform it while balancing on two thin blades across a slippery surface in front of a panel of international judges. Does all of that mean you can’t stand out as an employee? No! Here’s the good news: no one has a degree in punctuality, and you don’t need a special license to practice positivity. These are qualities you simply choose for yourself, and they require absolutely no special talent or training. You can choose to smile, to speak kindly, to keep promises, to do a little extra, to be honest, and to listen. All of these qualities are totally free and in unlimited supply. Here are four great qualities any employee can posses that require no special skills whatsoever:
Whether you label it as good energy, positivity, or a cheery disposition, some people are just nice to be around because of their upbeat attitude and enthusiasm. Maybe they’re not the fastest typist or most productive salesperson, but gosh darn it they just bring a smile to your face every time you see them. And even though they may not be the most talented employee, their energy is contagious and boosts the energy of everyone around them, which collectively makes all of the employees better.
Legend has it that even as the Titanic sank into to North Atlantic Ocean, the band played on. Now that is a solid work ethic. If you work with someone with that level of loyalty, who truly cares about their work, as well as the success of their coworkers and the overall prosperity of the organization, then that person is a keeper.
If a five-year-old can show up prepared for kindergarten with his shoes tied and his crayons sharpened, then you too can always be properly prepared for your day, meeting, conference call, etc. If you’re expected to take customer service calls about a new product, read the product manual and make sure you know your stuff. Don’t show up to meetings without the spreadsheets you need, or a pen and paper, or whatever else might be essential. A little organization and forethought can go a long way, so tie those shoes and sharpen those crayons. It’s really not that hard.
It generally takes no special skill to simply show up and do your job, yet we have all worked with someone who is constantly calling in sick, coming in late, or missing deadlines. Being someone to count on is a very valuable quality in an employee, and all the creative talent in the world won’t help you if the client shows up for the pitch meeting and you’re nowhere to be found.
Of course these are not the only great qualities employees can strive for – there’s passion, hustle, adaptability, openness, honesty, integrity, and many more. All of these things are human virtues that we can simply choose to embrace and put into practice. Don’t enroll in an “honesty” class, just be honest. And instead of hiring an “ethics” coach, just do the right thing, no training required. Embrace your natural talents, but don’t sweat it if you’re not the poster child for giftedness. Being a great human being is talent enough. As far as the triple sow cow goes, you’re on your own.