I get asked this question a lot, and I didn’t really know the answer until a recent revelation. I was reading an article on Renegade Collective, my favourite magazine, about a ballerina turned business owner, when it occurred to me that I, too, have transferred skills gained from my professional training to the launch and running of Oz Fair Trade.
According to Strengths Finder 2.0, my current top strengths are:
I was not born with these strengths. They are a direct result of my experiences to date. I might have always been inquisitive (i.e. Input), able to relate to others (i.e. Relator) and a thinker (i.e. Intellection), but Restorative and Activator? I would hardly see them as my strengths ten years ago.
I’d say that my actuarial training can definitely take credit for my problem solving skills (i.e. Restorative), and my passion for poverty alleviation and human rights pushed me to become an Activator (i.e. I cannot not act).
I suddenly realised that I founded Oz Fair Trade because I wanted to solve a problem that I witnessed i.e. extreme poverty, and this problem solving instinct was a direct result of my actuarial training.
I suddenly realised that all my ideas steam from my desire to solve a particular problem, and my Activator instinct pushes me to make these ideas happen.
It’s a New Year’s Revelation.
In the past, I have always focused on improving my weaknesses, with little understanding of my strengths. I couldn’t see how being an actuary helped me with Oz Fair Trade or any of the other activities that fill my life right now. But now I see it. It’s not just that I can do numbers. It’s more that I have learned to think analytically, and learned the right process of problem solving.
So yes, it is true that anything you learn can be useful, and any job can teach you valuable lessons.