Finding “Fit”: Aligning Your Gifts, Talents and Interests with Purposeful Education and Work

Half of employees were either ready to leave their jobs or unhappy in their position, according to last year’s Mercer survey.1

As we discuss how to get more students graduating from high school and college and into a career, it’s important individuals, schools, and businesses align their definitions of success so that an individual’s strengths and abilities are maximized. In school, success is largely measured by class standing and grades. In your career, success can be measured by status or money. But what about fulfillment? Purpose? Meaning? Contribution?

I recently attended TEDxMileHigh where I heard Dr. Natalie Baumgartner speak on how she helps people find “fit” in their careers.  When companies are concerned with the fit of people in their company, instead of just filling chairs, they create a culture that supports highly productive individuals. As a student or an employee, we are responsible for our own “fit,” meaning our happiness and fulfillment in work is directly tied to the connection between our abilities, skills, and knowledge and what a specific job requires.  We have the responsibility to identify and change a bad fit – in school or in a job—as well as excel in a good fit, taking the job to a new standard of quality and contribution. We all have a choice, whether it is getting out of an academically directed school if you are a student who prefers to make things with your hands or you are a lawyer and you are wondering why you took that path when you’ve finally realized you’re not competitive. Life is a series of options and we can decide to pursue things that align with our strengths and say “no” to the things that don’t measure up.

When individuals are filled with purpose, whether they are students or seasoned professionals, they are more committed and happier in their positions. Imagine if we encouraged more students to follow their passion and find their purpose, instead of only earning a grade, passing a standardized test or getting a paycheck. It could mean more dedicated college students who persist to graduation day. It could mean more graduates excited to see how their ideas can influence the world of work and improve the world as a whole. It could mean the difference between a bad fitting job and a rewarding career that creates prosperity, purpose and passion. When people feel “lit up” and inspired, they can surmount every challenge and change the world in major ways.


1Disgruntled Workers Unhappy in Their Jobs,” by Ben Rooney.” 20 June 2011. CNN Money. Accessed on 8 June 2012.

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