Bev Godby and Bill Hendricks – This Thing Called Giftedness Part 2

“We don’t have a high value on teaching in our world and America right now, and a lot of people think anybody can teach – ‘Just get up there and do it’. A lot of parents learned differently when they attempted to home-school their kids during the pandemic.” -Bev Godby

[00:00:00] Tommy Thomas: We’re picking up today from last week’s conversation with Bev Godby and Bill Hendricks of The Giftedness Center in Dallas.  We were talking about the power of story and one’s life, and in particular, what a manager can see when an employee is working within their area of giftedness. 

Bill and Bev had just responded to this quote from Warren Bennis. 

“Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted peopl never are. They have unique talents. Such people cannot be forced into roles they’re not suited for, nor should they be. Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.”

We’re picking up when I asked them to respond to this quote from Ben Zander, the Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. 

Here’s kind of another spin on that, and this comes from Ben Zander, the Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic.

“The conductor doesn’t make a sound. The conductor’s power depends on his ability to make other people powerful.”

 So how does this play into this thing called giftedness?

[00:01:09] Bill Hendricks: It’s a beautiful metaphor because most of the work in the world, certainly in our culture, is not actually done by individuals. It’s done by teams of people working in concert and alignment together. But each person is unique, and they bring different strengths. Just like all the instruments in an orchestra have different sounds and different roles in making music.

And what leaders need to do is to get all of those players, all of those performers, all of those instruments as if it were all the giftedness aligned. Which means putting first all of the right people in the right seats. One of the biggest problems in our culture is we get too many people because they don’t know and nobody’s checked out what their giftedness is. They’re doing things they weren’t born to do.

They’re like tools that are being used for purposes, different from what they were designed to do. You’ve got hammers trying to chop wood. You’ve got screwdrivers trying to drive nails. You’ve got saws trying to drill screw holes. And so we wonder why people are frustrated in their work.

We wonder why work isn’t done as well as it could be. So you gotta get the person in the right slot for them, as it were. But you’ve also gotta get all of those tools aligned around the common vision and purpose and strategy. And this is one of the great needs for good leadership. Good leaders have to pay attention to what their performers – to stick with the concert metaphor – not only are capable of doing but how to get the best out of them at the right time in the composition as it were. 

And if you think about every person as having that music in them, the tragedy is that so many people go through life and no one gets to hear the music. So there’s something of them that doesn’t really ever get to be utilized and heard.

And that’s another real privilege of what we get to do because we see and we hear that music and somebody and help them to get that engaged. I think one of the things Bill and I agree on is a lot of people that are not in what we call ‘good job fit’ – it doesn’t really fit them that have been shamed for that.

And they feel a sense of, because maybe they got fired or maybe they never get promoted or whatever. It’s not that they’re a bad person, which might be their conclusion. They are trying to do things that they’re not fit for. So to help them to really take some responsibility now that they can understand the way they’re made and go after things that do fit them is a win-win, because that’s where they really have a purpose and a sense of meaning.

And it’s also where they add to the world’s flourishing by being in the right. 

[00:04:18] Tommy Thomas: Bill, I know you and I have worked together, gosh, probably a dozen times over the last 15 years, and every time we work together, you bring out your overlapping rectangle illustration. And I realize our viewers can’t, our listeners can’t see what you’re talking about but it is such a good illustration.  Can you describe that a little bit for our listeners? 

[00:04:39] Bill Hendricks: Sure. The simple diagram to illustrate what Bev was talking about, their job fit, we said, ‘is this the right job for me or is this the right person for the job?’ We’re talking about job fit. How do you know what job fit is? Think of two boxes.

That one is stacked on top of the other, and they’re not in perfect alignment. There are two boxes, one over top of the other, and there’s a bit of overhang, if you will. And in the top box, we’re looking at a person. In that box, we’re trying to figure out, ‘what does this person love to do? What are they born to do?’ 

We’re talking about their giftedness, and what we do at The Giftedness Center is put a very comprehensive and precise definition and description to what a person’s giftedness really is based on their own life history. And then in the bottom box, we’re looking at that person relative to some context, like a job, a position, or a career only.

We look at that job or position or career through the same lens of motivation. We look at the person and we ask the question, ‘what’s really required to satisfy the expectations of whoever’s paying for this job or position?’ Hiring is all about expectations. The organization, the company, the business, the nonprofit, they have a function and whoever’s paying for that function, they have a picture in their mind of what success for that job looks like and whatever it takes to deliver that picture of success on a very consistent basis over time.

Those are the real motivational requirements of the job. And so, you’ve got what the person is born to do, looked at in comparison with what their expectations are and what they’re required to do. And wherever you have overlap between the person, the top box, and the bottom box, the job that’s a good fit because when the person puts energy in to do what’s required, they get a net gain of energy back.

But of course, there are parts of the boxes that don’t overlap. and that’s where all the challenges come. So there’s a part of the bottom box. It doesn’t fit the person well. What do they do? They gotta do it because it’s required. So they extend themselves out to cover that part of the job. Only now they’re working out of what we call can-do energy, not love-to-do energy.

The problem with can-do energy is that the person puts energy into the job, but they get none back. And a little bit of can-do is okay and probably builds character. But what we’re trying to avoid is where the boxes are way out of alignment and the person’s putting significant amounts of can-do energy into the job, getting very little energy back from doing the job.

And that’s not sustainable. That’s a recipe for burnout. 

[00:07:35] Tommy Thomas: Bill, when you and I have worked together, we talk about motivated abilities or things people, as you say, are born to do, and then every job has a set of competencies that you will probably do to get that job done.

Maybe the two of you unpack the difference between those two.

[00:07:55] Bev Godby: Motivated ability is something that’s instinctive to the person. They get into an activity and it’s like an arsenal, that they carry with them and they just pull this out. They instinctively go after work or anything that they’re motivated to do, but they’re acting in a way and they love to do it. They are good at it, they love to do it. It’s just instinctive to them. So a good example of that might be somebody who’s like what we would call, maybe a born leader. And they instinctively do it the way they do it. And that doesn’t mean that they just take over the room and okay everybody, let’s do this.

Some people would think a leader is, maybe the way they lead is a lot more subtle and they’re more like a stealth missile than you. Just, it’s in the group, but then gradually over time, they’re making sure that things are taken care of and everybody starts looking to them now to be the leader.

That’s an instinctive gift for them and that is the way they do it. But when it’s recognized, it’s obviously very useful, but the best part about it is it may take a lot of energy, whatever they’re doing, but they get this net exchange of energy back because they’re doing what they’re made to do.

Bill said earlier about being a hammer and getting hammer nails. But competencies I see. It could be, the person’s going to use their motivated ability if, to accomplish competency, but competencies are just things that people would like to see done.

And there’s a wide range of how those things could be done. One of the things we talk to organizations about a lot is when you say that you’re gonna hire someone, what is, basically the motivated ability that we’re gonna need to see in an individual? And this is the work you do, Tommy, to help them figure out if this is someone who’s gonna give you what you’re looking for.

[00:09:58] Bill Hendricks: Tommy, I was just gonna add, you say there’s competency and then there’s motivated ability. The word “competency” and the word “ability” are quite similar, but the real key here is the motivational piece. In order to have true giftedness, you have to have a combination of ability matched with motivation.

You can’t have either one without the other to qualify as giftedness. And so I’ve met people who had abilities, but they didn’t have the motivation for it. I once worked with a guy who was a very big man, and he could have been a linebacker for any National Football League team. And in fact, he had played football in high school and he was very good at it.

And I asked him, “How come you didn’t go on to college and even consider the pros?” And he laughed. He said, “Man, it broke my dad’s heart. He was already talking to college coaches and all set to see me waltzing my way into the NFL. And then when I got to college, I didn’t get to play.”  I said, “How come you quit?”

He said, “That’s easy. I was very good at it, but I didn’t like getting hit.” And so, he had ability, but he didn’t have motivation. And then on the other side, you can have motivation, but not ability. And to stick with that football analogy there, there are many men, at least here in the United States, who’d love to be able to throw a football like Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes.

They have all the motivation in the world, but they don’t have the ability. So you gotta put those two together. And so you can have competency in an area but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re motivated to exercise that competency. That’s why motivation is the desire, it’s the hunger, it’s the drive that comes from within, not from the outside.

[00:11:43] Bev Godby: And I think, Tommy, a lot of people discovered this during the pandemic, parents that were called into teaching. We don’t have a really high value on teaching in our world and America right now, and it’s a low-hanging fruit. And a lot of people think anybody can teach – “Just get up there and do it.”

And it is so obvious to parents when they then had to stay home and try to do this thing, they sent their kids down the street to get done, that wow, this was a really different thing than they thought. I would get called into some schools, to a teacher maybe who is struggling to help them figure it out.

And I remember this one school where I met with this art teacher. She was hired because she was artsy, crafty, creative like that. But every day she was getting sick to her stomach when she had to go in and she was, I hate to say it, but by her own words, she was a failure as a teacher. She couldn’t do classroom management.

And this was the saddest thing ever. She was hired also because she had, I think a degree from DTS and they thought she’d be great for this Christian school. 

That part was great, except there was nothing in her that wanted to teach.

And it was so clear. She said, I thought that because I was miserable at this, that this must be what God wanted me to do.

And I thought, we’ve done a really bad job at teaching if someone thinks that. Because if God made you this way and brought you into the world for a specific, time and place with a purpose attached to this, the thought that you’d be miserable all your life trying to do something seemed so sad to me.

But she was so grateful when I said to her, ‘the only problem here is you, nothing in you really wants to do this job.’ And it was a relief, that ‘I don’t have to do this anymore.’ And I said, ‘Here’s the thing. You’re leaving room now for somebody else who would love to do this job to come in and use it. So it’s great. You’re gonna go on to do something that you’re really made to do.’

[00:14:10] Tommy Thomas:   I mentor at one of the local elementary schools here, and the other day they had invited me in to watch a science experiment, but I got there a little early, and the teacher had then all in, fourth graders, had then all around on the floor, and she was talking to them about their uniqueness and how each one of them was so unique.

[00:14:27] Tommy Thomas: And I thought, man, how cool was that? And so for about five minutes, she just had them, she had them in the palm of her hand. And you could tell she was in her element. You could see the fire in her eye.

[00:14:42] Tommy Thomas:  I know we have listeners of all kinds. But I want to go to the corporate listener for a minute here. We do a lot of work where you have to have somebody to do a turnaround. And, guess what we’ve learned over the years is that, 

People have to enjoy the elements of turnaround.  They have to be drawn to fight that battle.

Can either one of you go there for a minute? 

[00:15:08] Bill Hendricks: Oh, absolutely. Giftedness, as Bev alluded to earlier, is a pattern of behavior in a person’s life. So what we would be looking for, as I know you would be Tommy, is if somebody’s going to be a, call ’em a turnaround artist, you know, that’s like the bomb squad.

Everybody else is running out of the building and this person’s running into the building to defuse the bomb. 

There are actually people who have a lifelong history of, metaphorically speaking, defusing bombs. They love the challenge of it, or they like the obstacles that they have to overcome.

They enjoy even possibly the potentially adversarial situations they might find themselves in. They have a passion for bringing change for the better. And they love to get into thorny, gnarly situations often where people, things, are involved and help to promote listening, understanding, ultimately conversation that begins to resolve differences and iron things out and put systems in place to keep those problems from festering up again.

And they’re brilliant, and they’re not. A lot of people aren’t like that out there, but they’re out there. And the way you know they’re out there is when you get their stories, you find out, huh, this person has a whole pattern of getting into those situations. The one caveat is to notice that once you’ve diffused the bomb, once you’ve put the fire out, once you’ve rebuilt what was burning and things are working well, the person has essentially worked themself out of a job.

Because their whole bent is to fix something. Once it’s fixed, they’re done, they’re ready to go do that again, probably somewhere else. 

And so turnaround artists are great, but you don’t want that turnaround artist to outlive their welcome.

[00:17:09] Bev Godby: I have a son-in-law that he just described, and he’s now out in Midland turning an oil and gas company around.

And it’s amazing what he’s done since he’s been there. But he’s telling them the hard things. They don’t always want to do that, but he’s so great at taking a problem and being able to analyze it and figure out exactly what we need to do here. So a lot of it depends on if they’re also going to be aligned with people that wanna listen to that hard truth.

Because a lot of people that are turnaround artists, perhaps could do that, but they’ve got to have somebody willing to listen to this. He’s predicting that the company he works for is going to be sold in the next year. And I could believe that’s probably going to be true. So he’s gonna get a new shot somewhere else, is my guess.

And we’re hoping it’s not in Midland anymore. Maybe we can move him a little closer home.

[00:18:02] Tommy Thomas: Bev, you told a story with your teacher illustration about the good fit-bad fit. Bill, do you have, again, protecting the names of the innocent, would you have a story about a good fit-bad fit that you’ve had?

[00:18:14] Bill Hendricks: One of the most dramatic, and do you want me to pick one from the corporate world or just people in general? 

[00:18:20] Tommy Thomas: You can go in general. It’s all the same. 

[00:18:22] Bill Hendricks: It really is. This one’s not from the corporate world. It’s with an individual. But the reason I tell it is because it’s my view that we have in a sense Leonardo Da Vinci’s and Michelangelo’s and Mother Teresa’s and Winston Churchill’s, and those kinds of people all around us, but because no one’s ever tapped into their giftedness and given them opportunities to develop and cultivate it we don’t get to see that giftedness expressed very much. 

One of the most dramatic cases I’ve ever seen was a guy who called me up. He was 30 years old and said, ‘Bill, I need to come see you.’

And I said, ‘Tell me about it.’ He says, ‘I’m laying tile and I’m hating life. I’m in a dead-end job. I can’t stand it. If I don’t figure this out soon, I just don’t know what I’m going to do.’ 

And when we popped the hood on his giftedness, I had on my hands what amounted to a modern-day Leonardo da Vinci.

This was a person who loved to look into the properties of whatever he was working on, whether it was wood or stone or water or fire. He had worked with all kinds of media, and he would experiment with it and figure out what you could do with it and how it worked. And then he would always create some imaginative rendering that was very conceptual in nature.

So, he was a sculptor in a lot of what he did in putting in installations and stuff like this. And I said, ‘we’re going to have a hard time finding a meaningful job for you because you’re going to get bored easily.’ And for the next 10 years he worked a series of odd jobs to make ends meet, but he took me seriously and he applied himself to his craft and his art and one day, a couple of years ago, about three years ago by now, I got a phone call from him. He said, ‘Bill, you always told me it was going to take about 10 years before you said my ship would come in.’ I said, ‘yeah.’ He said, ‘I think my ship has come in.’ And he described to me that his father, who’s also an artist, had heard about a contest that one of the departments up in Washington DC had put out a call for proposals to put a sculpture on the National Mall, the last of the space available for that sort of thing.

And his dad just had heard about that and was just playing around and did a sketch. And my friend saw this sketch and said, ‘Dad, I think you got something here.’ And then the two of them worked on this thing together. And anyway, 

A couple of years ago, a 22 million dollar sculpture on the National Mall was unveiled that this guy and his father had put together.

And really the guy that patterned it was in many ways the technical brain behind all of the design of the infrastructure and how it was going to get built and the budget and so forth and so on. And just think about those 10 years before that guy had been laying tile, and yet there was all that giftedness just sitting there. What I’m saying is that it’s really worth doing some work to discover what is inside people and then give it an opportunity to develop and to be unleashed because 

God has put into each and every person strengths that have an actual effect on the world and its people.

And if we can unleash those strengths and put them where they will do the most good, as Bev used the word earlier, we will cause human flourishing. And wherever you see giftedness, given an opportunity to express itself in alignment with the purposes for which it was given you, you discover that there’s always human flourishing.

[00:22:07] Tommy Thomas: Let’s close with this. In the movie Chariots of Fire, perhaps the most memorable line was when Eric Liddell said, 

“I believe that God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. When I run, I feel his pleasure”.

To each of you my question would be, what are you doing when you feel God’s pleasure?

Go ahead, Bev. 

[00:22:29] Bev Godby: Sure. Set me up first. Right now I’m in an interesting place that we all come to if we are given years. And that is, I both have my mom who’s quite elderly now, who needs a certain amount of tending, if you will, to her needs and all right now, and then I have grown children that have their own families, six grandkids.

And I’m asking that question of,  this idea about parenting, like how do we, in this stage where, we’re watching adult children, which are no longer the same as the kids we had, and I’m watching my own mother now. And I’m very much taking a different role with her. So how do I see what is God asking me of me now that my hands are empty, I guess you might say, in a certain way from the quote, onsite parenting job I just think it’s a value to pay attention to. What are you being called to in this space and time and how do you do it? And the real thing that I’m very interested in, because so many people are asking me, how do you parent adult children?

I think the answer to that is you don’t parent adult children, you have adult children. You have parented. And I haven’t yet figured out the word that we’re using for this, but I think it’s about relationship. Tommy, I think we’re building, perhaps if we’ve been fortunate to have a good relationship with those kids when they were, in your own home.

But now you’re forging something brand new that feels like mutual respect and doing something. There’s a verse in Proverbs that says the wise woman builds her house and I think we never really get finished building the house. And how do you think about adding value to what they’re doing without imposing some of the same kind of story that you had at one point.

So, there’s a certain amount of also surrendering some of the baggage, maybe, and trying to see what God might be making new here. The same thing’s true in the thing with my mother, even though it would not seem that way. You’ve gotta keep pressing into what is new here?  What, where’s God working? 

[00:25:12] Tommy Thomas: How about you, Bill?

[00:25:12] Bill Hendricks: Tommy, my sweet spot Bev told earlier that both she and I, we each have our unique giftedness, but we both share in common the thought that we want to impact, we want to make an impact. Impact has the idea of a collision of some sort.

It’s like a baseball bat hitting a baseball in the sweet spot and knocking it out of the park. In other words, impactors want to make a difference. I have been privileged over the last 25, and I say, going on 30 years, to do this work of helping people discover their giftedness. And it makes a huge impact.

I would say it makes, as it did for me, a transformational impact. Like the person’s never quite the same afterwards, and it’s a positive impact. 

When you ask the question, ‘What is it that makes me feel God’s pleasure?’ It’s when I see somebody like that guy that helped put the sculpture up, not only to discover what their gift is, but then to go do something meaningful with it.

And just to realize that I had a small part in allowing them and enabling them to get to that point, I take tremendous joy and satisfaction when the people that I’ve worked with are effective and find success, whatever their giftedness happens to be. The gift is not from me. I’m not a genius.

I’m just a part of a process that God has used for them to wake up to their giftedness. I estimate that I’ve personally put about 2,000 individuals through the process that we use, that you’re familiar with, and Bev’s probably put at least another 1,500 or more. And so, by now we got lots and lots of stories of people.

And honestly, I’d say now it’s to the point where on a weekly basis I’m getting an email or a phone call, running into somebody’s parents. But I get feedback. Somebody’s saying, ‘Bill, I never thought it would happen for me, but I feel like I’m in the perfect job for me.’ And you see somebody on Facebook and they’re telling you about what they’re now doing and realize, wow, they really believed it.

They took it, they ran with it. They honored it, they leaned into it, and then good stuff starts happening. And whenever that happens, I leap out of bed the next morning to go help the next person. And now what Bev and I are trying to do is figure out how do we not only scale what we do beyond just our little corner of the world in Dallas. How do we turn this into a legacy that we can pass down through successive generations so that the day might come when people don’t have to be like me and get to 30 years of age and still don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing and floundering about scared because they can’t figure it out and starting to think terrible thoughts about themselves.

God put us here to cause the world and its people to flourish and there are a lot of elements to that but certainly one of the keys at the core of that is for people to discover and then begin to lean into their giftedness.

[00:28:21] Tommy Thomas: It’s always good to catch up with Bill and Bev. I so appreciate the work that they’re doing at The Giftedness Center.  I appreciate it even more when Bill has time to work with me on a CEO search for a nonprofit organization. He adds so much to the process. 

Sometime in the coming months, Bill and Bev will join me again and the three of us will talk with Don Kiehl about seeing a child’s giftedness through the eyes of a little league baseball coach. Don has been a student of giftedness and motivation for over 40 years and has some keen insights into this area. 

If our technology works, my guests next week will be Dr. David Stevens, recently retired CEO of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. You’ll enjoy Dr. Steven’s leadership journey from medical school to working in a remote hospital in Kenya to how God used him in the renaissance of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. 

Until next week, keep doing what you’re doing to make the non-profit sector more effective and sustainable.

“There are actually people who have a lifelong history of, metaphorically speaking, defusing bombs. They love the challenge of it, or they like the obstacles that they have to overcome.” -Bill Hendricks

Links and Resources

JobfitMatters Website

Next Gen Nonprofit Leadership with Tommy Thomas

The Giftedness Center

What is Your Giftedness and How Do You Discover It?

The Person Called You: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life

The Power of Uniqueness

So How Do I Parent THIS Child? Discovering the Wisdom and the Wonder of Who Your Child Was Meant to Be


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