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Ben Patton
Ben Patton

Posted on • Originally published at Medium on

Working Genius

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

I have done a lot of reflection the past couple of months. Difficult circumstances, pain, and loss cause one to look inward in many different areas of life.

One of the really timely gifts (I am calling it a gift because of how timely it was for me) is an assessment called The Working Genius.


I worked in a ministry setting for 6+ years. There were highs and lows. But one of the biggest problems I faced was that I always wanted to do something different than the job I was ‘on paper’ supposed to do. I remember actually asking my supervisor/mentor, ‘can I just work the way I want to work?’ The answer was no. Why? Because we had a method.

Please understand, I loved that ministry and the people. My grief is that we do a painfully terrible job at helping people learn how they are gifted and work within that gifting. The typical structure is that ‘you work for us, you do what we want you to do/do what you are told’. That is not going to cut it anymore.

So go back to 2020 when I was changing careers and learning a new skill. I had a part time job. Within a 3 weeks I was already trying to point out how things could be better. That didn’t go anywhere. Why? Because ‘to get ahead in life you have to put in the time. You have to work 60+ hrs and show your work ethic…blah’. I abhor this type of advice.

My first, second, and now third job as a software developer, I have done the same thing in all of these places. I have been there for a few weeks or month(s) and things start to align for me that there are problems that need to be solved. The common advice/question I get asked is, ‘Do you really think that those in leadership don’t see the issues that you see.’ To that I say, maybe, but I don’t care about that question.

Why? Because the question makes me feel like I should just ‘get in line’, ‘do your job’, ‘don’t question how things are’, and on and on. Now I have written more extensively about how I am wrestling through what people say, when I know they have my good in mind, but this is different. I can’t just let a problem go.

Anyways, Now to The Working Genius

What is it? It is an assessment to help you know how you best do your work. ‘When you do this type of work, you are fueled.’ That type of thing. So it is less about personality, although it does have major implications for personality and interpersonal interactions.

So here are the six different types Working Genius and brief descriptions that you can find on their website:

  1. Wonder - The natural gift of pondering the possibility of greater potential and opportunity in a given situation.
  2. Invention - The natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions.
  3. Discernment - The natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluating ideas and situations.
  4. Galvanizing - The natural gift of rallying, inspiring and organizing others to take action.
  5. Enablement - The natural gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or project.
  6. Tenacity - The natural gift of pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results.

This assessment has revolutionized (I realize this is a buzzword but in the regard, it is true) how I think about work and how I understand myself.

To clarify, it does not mean that you will never have to do things that you do not want to do.

What it does mean is that you now have a language to be able to describe these things. It is best if you can take this with your team because then you get to understand nuances about you and your team members that help you appreciate and work together better. It also helps you see and fill gaps in your team.

Geniuses, Competencies, and Frustrations

In this assessment you test for 2 Working Geniuses, 2 Working Competencies, and 2 Working Frustrations. So you learn where you thrive, where you can do okay, and where you really don’t want to be.

A Case Study: Me

Working Geniuses: Wonder & Enablement

Working Competencies: Discernment & Galvanizing

Working Frustrations: Invention & Tenacity

I will write Tomorrow’s article to follow up on this one and go into detail about what that means for me day to day. But take a minute. Read my Geniuses, Competencies, and Frustrations and then go back to the definitions above and discern how that looks in the workplace.

For clarity, genius means you are working/operating in the sweet spot. Competency means you can do it but it is not really preferred. Frustration means, ‘if I have to do this for long I am out of here.’

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