Life is full of questions, failures, and successes. We have all heard, in one form or another, “we are defined by the work we do.” I, however, do not believe this to be true. At one point in my life, I worked for a paycheck for the sole purpose of covering my expenses; this is no longer the case.
Every business has a reason to exist beyond generating revenue. They exist to offer some form of benefit or value to others in which customers are then willing to exchange their hard-earned money. These benefits are created by the talent of your employees and we all benefit from the talents of others.
This raises the question: How do other people benefit from our talents? Our talents are not intended for our use but to benefit others. A paper entitled “Investing in Strengths” published by Gallup shows that people who use their strengths and talents every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. Gallup’s data shows sampling improving their strengths makes employees 7.8% more effective and teams focusing on strengths have 12.5% greater productivity. Unfortunately, only 37% of American employees believe their leadership focuses on developing their strengths.
People who regularly use and improve their strengths have improved health and wellness. They also tend to experience less worry, stress, anger, sadness, and physical pain. In fact, utilizing our strengths is shown to boost our positive emotions and give us more energy during the day. Furthermore, using our talents regularly gives us higher engagement levels on the tasks we are focusing on.
Now, consider local businesses that hire local talent and the impact this has on the community. According to Fundera, small businesses employ 58.9 million people which represents 47.5% of the entire United States workforce. Additionally, small businesses make up 99.9% of all businesses in the country.
Another question is how do small businesses help their community? Small businesses help create a community’s identity. They add to the charm and character of the street and neighborhood they are a part of. Quint Studer points out in “Small Businesses Can Save Your Community,” that “when a downtown area is filled with cool coffee shops, locally-owned restaurants, microbreweries, and quirky boutiques—together with plenty of strong non-retail players like architects, ad agencies, and attorneys—that downtown is often the heart and soul of a vibrant community.”
Local businesses develop and build one-of-a-kind products only available in that community. This attracts visitors and adds to the local mystique. In addition, it adds to the community’s tax revenue which is reinvested into that community.
Most importantly, local businesses hire local talent. This returns us to the people who make up that business. These are the people who show up to work every day knowing they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. This feeling of wellbeing about the work we do benefits not only ourselves and our companies, but also our customers and our community.
It is being charitable with our talents, both in and out of work, that drives us to learn more, work more, and grow. As a result, we create value through the benefits we provide. When we share our talents with others, both in and out of work, it gives us the ability to see the struggles and hardships of others as we help them to overcome their challenges.
One thing rarely recognized when sharing your strengths is the reciprocity of it. You know that you are helping others, but do you know the ways you are helping yourself? According to the article “7 Science-Backed Reasons Why Generosity Is Good for Your Health,” by Amanda Chan, there are health benefits to using your talents to help others. Sharing your talents reduces stress and promotes overall mental health.
A study from the University of Buffalo found a link between using your talents to help others and having a lower risk of early death. Another study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Demography and Aging found a relationship between sharing your talents at work and happiness. “More and more research illustrates the power of altruism,” says La Follette professor Donald Moynihan, “but people debate whether we behave altruistically because of hidden self-interest, such as the desire to improve how others see us.” There is a clear link between sharing our talents with others and our wellbeing.
So, what then is the most important question? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it best– “life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Both in and out of work, use your talents and strengths to help others–and thrive.