Whenever I speak about Perceptual Style or Your Talent Advantage one of the most often asked questions is whether or not the theory and the inventories can be used to help young people figure out what they want to do in life. The answer is a resounding yes, but it opens up an underlying issue that is often not addressed.

It amazes me how many children graduate from high school and even college with little idea of what they want to do with their lives and often even less of an idea about the things at which they are naturally skilled, talented, or gifted.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Many of the adults I work with strongly dislike what they do. But it is an indictment of our society and our educational system that so many, both students and adults are unaware of their Talent Advantage. How can this be?

One reason is the refusal of the educational system to acknowledge on a meaningful level that there are multiple types of intelligence. Despite solid research by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner on different types of intelligence (nine at last count) the school system doggedly recognizes and teaches to only two. When learning differences are recognized they are often labeled as learning disabilities, or seen as something that supports extra curricular activity (musical or athletic ability for example).

One young man I worked with is a good example of what happens when you don’t fit the standard academic mold. He began having “academic difficulties” in the ninth grade which were compounded by having recently moved to the U.S. from Europe. There was much wringing of hands about what would the family do if he was unable to get into college. How would he earn a living? His “failure to keep” up with his cousins was seen as an embarrassment by his family and took its toll on his self-esteem. Every incident of rebellion and acting out was one more piece of evidence that he could just not perform at the expected level. One thing led to another and he got cross-wise with the law in one of the typical ways that adolescents do.

The family was insistent that he enter some type of treatment program, which fortunately turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. It got him out of the standard school environment and into a program that encouraged him to discover and explore what he enjoyed and excelled at. He has made a remarkable transformation, from a confused, angry, and directionless teenager to a happy, motivated, college student who knows what he is good at and is pursuing it with enthusiasm and success.

This young man was lucky to end up in a program whose philosophy of treatment mirrored that of our Strength Based Coaching model – discover your natural skills and talents so that you can do more of what you do best. Many are not so fortunate. I am convinced that much of the confusion about life and career direction that I encounter occurs when people who don’t fit the standard mold do not get recognition for their natural skills. Either they do their best to “fit in” and they muddle along living lives of “quiet desperation,” or they decide they are misfits and behave accordingly. Either way both they and the community at large lose out when the unique contribution of their Talent Advantage is lost.

Author's Bio: 

Lynda-Ross Vega: A partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., Lynda-Ross specializes in helping entrepreneurs and coaches build dynamite teams and systems that WORK. She is co-creator of a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. For free information on how to succeed as an entrepreneur or coach, create a thriving business and build your bottom line doing more of what you love, visit www.ACIforCoaches.com