Giftedness Success Story
We will occasionally post Giftedness success stories on our blog, where we go into detail about how Giftedness helped a real life person in his or her own words. Some of the names in the story may be changed for confidentiality. If you or someone you love would like to be featured, let us know!
Natalie the NICU Nurse
I always knew I wanted to help people—it was something I had done my whole life, sometimes with better results than others. At 21, I dropped out of college to go on an exciting adventure around the world, a missions trip in name only, but what turned out to be a lot less helping people and a lot more about personal growth.
When I returned, jaded by the idea of showing up to a third world country with only the ability to hold babies and nothing else, I enrolled in a nursing program. The degree was difficult, but I graduated with honors and a job offer to work in a NICU, a real life opportunity to save the babies.
The expectation far surpassed the reality.
My job was hard—not that the actual work was hard (which it was), but that the environment was hard. Many days, I would come home from work and collapse on the couch, unable to get myself showered and fed and to bed for my next shift. I began dreaming of other careers, picking up side hustles doing a myriad of things, from nannying to birthday parties—I even considered getting into wedding photography, as if that’s an easy field to jump into!
I didn’t understand what had gone wrong: this was my dream job. Why did I hate it? Why was I so drained? Why did I have anxiety attacks the days leading up to working, ruining my days off with the dread of going back in?
Some of this, I’ve learned in the years since, is actually normal for your first nursing job. You’re responsible for people’s lives, and the mistakes (that any good employee in a new job makes) are very serious, sometimes even lethal. But I was struggling with more than the just the new-nurse pressure of caring for tiny babies.
Completing My Giftedness Assessment
When I sat down to fill out my Giftedness stories, I had a high level of suspicion. What do these childhood stories have anything to do with struggling at work now, and how will sharing them help anyone understand me better? However, I was desperate, so I filled out the form, listing stories of play performances, organizing events, fighting to help my sometimes helpless friends and family. I completed my interview, and then I remember sitting down to receive my results.
My top three lines were Meet Needs, Gain Response, and Be In Charge. After a quick crash course on what that meant and why I was those particular three, we turned our attention to the elephant in the room: my dissatisfaction at work.
Nursing is a great career for a Meet Needs person, for obvious reasons, and I loved that aspect of my job—saving tiny humans, teaching moms learn for to care for their sick babies, even helping another nurse handle a difficult admission or situation. On the days where I had helped a lot of people, I came home energized and excited, but as a new nurse, with little to offer, those days were still few and far between.
However, nursing is not an obvious fit for a Gain Response or Be In Charge personality. Gain Response essentially means that I love to perform, love to be applauded for my performance, whether dramatically on stage or privately sharing a story and making a friend laugh. As a nurse, my job is almost to be invisible: I keep the babies alive while helping the parents feel empowered to care for their child, and though a mom may thank me for helping her figure out breastfeeding, most of the time my work is thankless, or even disdained, as parents walk through the hardest days of their lives.
Unfortunately at the time, I didn’t have the option of switching jobs. My husband was in grad school, and we were dependent on both my salary and my health insurance. While I had been picking up side jobs in hopes of finding fulfillment there, now that we knew why I was struggling at work, I was able to start thinking through creative solutions to implement at my job.
Using My Giftedness
The first thing I did was to be intentional to look for opportunities to help (meet needs). Did a nurse need to bathe a baby on a busy shift, or grab the IV kit from the supply room down the hall? Could I help set a mom up with her breast pump, or teach a dad how to effectively change a diaper without getting pee everywhere? I knew I wouldn’t be asked to help with the exciting, emergency tasks until my coworkers saw I could do the tedious, less-glamorous ones, so I made it my goal to offer help wherever and whenever I could.
Then, I started looking for ways to gain positive response and be in charge of something, even small things. In most hospitals, nurses can join committees where they have a voice and can positively impact their unit. I joined a committee, ended up being elected the chair, and helped create policies and education, which I then helped to implement. Or, to put it in giftedness language, I created the opportunity to Be In Charge (as a committee chair) and Gain Response (from my coworkers as I helped them improve their nursing care).
Fast forward to a year later, and I loved my job. I came home from most of my shifts full of joy and life, and my days off were days of rest (until I filled them with a million activities that I now had the energy for—but that’s a different story). Instead of counting down the days until we could afford for me to quit, I found myself driving in on my days off to meet with product reps and brainstorm with other disciplines. I went from satisfactory job performance scores to exceptional ones, and in turn ranked my employer as exceptional, too.
Natalie’s Giftedness success story is part of why we’re launching Giftedness DC, because how many other people are out there in jobs they think they hate, but that they can’t leave? And, by simply understanding what motivates them a little better, can we help them create a work environment that they love?
We think loving your job is long overdue.