A spiritual teacher* said, “one most take care not to become one of those ‘lost souls’ who wander through life trying their hand at every field of endeavor except for what is truly and inherently their own.”
How can you avert becoming one of those lost souls and know what endeavors you were born to do? By uncovering your aptitudes. But don’t confuse aptitudes with skills. There is a difference between them. It’s a big one.
What are skills?
Your skills are those things you’re able to do right now. Examples are singing, creating a website, writing and speaking well, or operating a forklift.
You know exactly what your skills are. Just look at your resume where your skills are stated in your bullet points. You’re using a bunch of skills right now on the job and are offering them to prospective employers in a job search.
What is an aptitude?
While a skill is the power to do something right now, an aptitude is the potential to do something that has not yet been tapped into and trained to the skills level.
For example, when you hear someone say, “I think Maryanne has a lovely singing voice and with some training she could sing on television,” the statement means that Marianne probably was born with a lovely voice and aptitude for singing but has not yet acquired the skill. So she only has the potential to appear on America’s Got Talent—someday—after taking lots of singing lessons and practicing, practicing, practicing. Then Maryanne will have acquired the skill of singing.
Looking at your aptitudes from a scientific viewpoint, you inherited them from your parents. In his book Learning to Use Your Aptitudes, Dean Trembly says you can no more change your aptitudes than you can change the color of your eyes, which you also inherited from a parent.
From a metaphysical viewpoint, aptitudes are your God-given abilities. The spiritual teacher quoted above knew this well when he also said, “Every soul is entrusted with a mission unique to her alone, and is granted the specific aptitudes, talents, and resources necessary to excel in her ordained role.”
How to put aptitudes to work
It’s not easy to decide how and where to use your aptitudes. There’s no such thing as selecting the just right job for you based on a match of your aptitudes. But knowing them lets you follow certain principles in making choices of careers, and jobs within those careers.
Ask yourself, “How will my aptitudes help me to become an accountant, musician, engineer, or actor? You begin with yourself—not the job.
Learning what your aptitudes are is always the first step. You can take an aptitude test. Or do your own self-assessment to understand what kinds of things you’re drawn toward or vibrate to.
Where can you use your aptitudes?
“In quite a few places,” writes Trembly and he gives examples: If you’re attracted to advertising, you’ll need aptitudes for imagination to create ideas, artistic aptitudes to judge layouts and commercials, and a large vocabulary for writing.
If banking is your passion, look for an ability to concentrate along with a low aptitude for ideas. Finger dexterity is helpful to handle money. And an aptitude for objectivity for supervisory jobs.
If you daydream about being a dentist, you would need to have the natural abilities for understanding scientific information, mathematics, visualization of three dimensional patterns, along with finger dexterity.
When you know what your aptitudes are, it’s vital that you use them in your work, or outside of the office in community activities or hobbies. When you’re not able to use some of your natural abilities, they’ll go to waste. People with the right aptitudes for a task don’t fatigue as quickly and are less stressed. Strain leads to burnout, accidents, and a high level of stress-related illness.
So use as may of your own unique combination of aptitudes as possible. It may not be easy. And as important as it is to know what your aptitudes are, it’s equally as valuable to use as many aptitudes as you can in order to avoid experiencing the heebie-jeebies from letting them go unused.
*Rabbi Yosef Schneersohn
RANDY PLACE is the author of Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach, a must read for job hunters and careerists because of the many 60-second tips you’ll receive for all aspects of your job search and career. ORDER now from Amazon.
Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place