The more clues to her strengths that Kylie and Marcus gathered, the more Marcus' early suspicion was borne out. Miserable as she was, Kylie really was in the ballpark. She loved to design. But her job at the paper didn't afford her as much opportunity to do it as she craved. Often she was executing someone else's vision—just inputting. Now Marcus gave Kylie another assignment: to list 10 things she could do over the next five weeks to gain more opportunities to do the work she loved best. Her managers had given her outstanding performance reviews. They clearly had no idea she was unhappy. It was up to her to give them the chance to use her even more effectively by telling them what her strengths were. "One of the most insidious myths people suffer under in the workplace," says Marcus, "is this idea that we should all be team players and do what the team asks of us. It's a moral myth, but it misunderstands our moral duty. Our real moral duty is to offer our greatest strength to the team—to give it the opportunity to use us where we're at our strongest."

But Marcus also could see that Kylie's current job, even with substantial re-engineering, might never make her happy. The list of "loves" had offered crucial information, but there were still all those "loathes" to confront. Kylie had told Marcus that she'd always loved jewelry making—except for one part at the very end, when the slightest of goofs, like tying a knot badly, could "make the beads fall all over the floor." Marcus had noticed that this same intense dislike of things falling apart at the last minute came up when they spoke of her job at the paper. Kylie's beautiful layouts were forever being messed up at the very last minute by events she couldn't control. And this wasn't unexpected—news has a way of changing all the time. It also wasn't likely that e-mail culture would ever reverse, returning Kylie to the face-to-face collaborative atmosphere that she craved.

If Kylie really did need to start fresh in another job, how would she know where to go? How could she both follow her instincts and avoid the mistakes that her instincts had made the last time? At this juncture, Marcus sees people fall prey to the same four pitfalls again and again. First, we're so close to our own strengths, we don't see them; or if we do see them, we don't value them. Kylie wouldn't necessarily label her love for engagement with others as a strength to be utilized in the workplace; she'd be more likely to assume everyone felt that way. Yet the world is full of people who do their best work in isolation. Second, we suffer from "should" syndrome: We should love doing layouts at a newspaper because we love design, and news is important and exciting. Or we should stay at our job because it's irresponsible not to. Third, we tend to pile our work misery into a big, mushy lump that we then allow to crush us. We don't ask ourselves the questions that Marcus was asking Kylie. We don't patiently tease apart the many strands of our daily existence, distinguishing those that actually make us happy—the lump has made us forget there were any of these—from those that we have to eliminate as soon as we can.


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