I attended a luncheon last week with 150 highly motivated business people, 85-90% of which were women.
The audience was skewed by gender because the sponsoring organization was focused on helping promote more women on corporate boards.  And things seem to be looking up. Their latest study revealed that although only 11.5% of public corporation board members in our state are female, women were selected to fill 21% of board seats that came open in 2013.

This luncheon was arranged in a classic way, with networking in advance and meal seating that provided up to 10 people at each round table. This presented the classic challenges of communicating with nine strangers around a large table. The conversation dynamics changed from one-on-ones to small groups to one person addressing the entire table. At one point, I had the entire table’s attention and decided to propose one of my favorite conversational challenges. It went something like this…

I believe that most people are vastly underutilized… like only 10% of their potential.

I want to assure you that I do not go around making these types of sweeping statements frequently. But, every once in a while, I can’t resist putting them out there and seeing what kind of reaction I get. In this case, it appeared to fall on deaf ears. The general lack of reaction forced me to take an honest self-assessment and deem my comment a bombastic blunder, a conversational clunker, a definitive dud. While I am waiting for one of those attendees to call and tell me that my comment inspired them to reach for more in their careers, I want to share and expand on my proposition with you.

Are you underutilized in your career? See if you can relate to any of these situations that might indicate you are in fact underutilized:

  • You are pretty sure you are underpaid
  • Your income has gone backward or has become stagnant
  • Your job title has gone backward or has become stagnant
  • Your job is not consistently challenging
  • You have multiple valuable skills that are not being utilized
  • You are working in a company that doesn’t match your values
  • You don’t see any reasonable opportunity on the horizon for a job you desire
  • You have friends who are less capable but more successful
  • You have been in the same job for too long

So, what about it? Do you think you are underutilized? While you could view my last question as focusing on a negative, you could also choose to take stock of your positive potential and challenge yourself to find a new job or entrepreneurial venture that will fit you better.

In addition to believing you are underutilized, I also believe that you have the power within you to identify and capture the new career opportunities you desire. People are finding these opportunities every day. I truly hope that you will share my beliefs and achieve your dreams.

As I mention in Chapter 4 of my career book,

There is a popular expression that there are three types of people in the world – those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who fail to notice things and eventually wake up to ask “What happened?” To succeed in the 21st century, you need to become someone who makes things happen… especially when it comes to your career satisfaction.

I hope you will accept my challenge and begin today to create a more rewarding career that more fully utilizes your unique talents and abilities.