Tests are gifts

Today’s blog post is by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job Michael Moransatisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

“I’ve always thought tests are a gift. And great tests are a great gift. To fail the test is a misfortune. But to refuse the test is to refuse the gift, and something worse, more irrevocable, than misfortune.” L McMaster Bujold.

It’s Advent and gifts are good topic; from the odd array of gifts that the ‘true love’ offered to the gold, frankincense and myrrh given by the three wise men. For the record this blog writer would prefer the gold and perfumes!

A gift is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. Wikipedia says that a significant fraction of gifts are unwanted, or the giver pays more for the item than the recipient values it, resulting in a misallocation of economic resources known as a deadweight loss.

The Bible tells us that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. In truth a gift doesn’t just reveal the image the giver has of you; it shows the character and the thinking of the giver as well.

Testing times

Far from being voluntary, the 20th century French sociologist Marcel Mauss says that presents are tied up with strict obligations. “To refuse to give, to fail to invite, just as to refuse to accept, is tantamount to declaring war; it is to reject the bond of alliance and commonality,” he wrote in his 1925 essay “The Gift.”

From time to time we’ve all had to face up to challenges and tests in our professional and personal lives. We don’t always do as well as we would like but tackling the new and difficult is what helps to grow as people. When we face a test of our ingenuity, experience or confidence we find ways to push ourselves and see what we are capable of.

At10Eighty we believe that leaders help their teams to learn to collaborate, to share, to explore the unknown, and to take risks.

We all have to cope with a lot of uncertainty and volatility in managing our careers in the current climate. Building resilience and consolidating career management skills will help employees to thrive in such an environment and meet the challenges thrown up by new ways of working and disruptive technologies.

Fronting up

Faced with life’s ups and downs, we all have different ways of coping. There’s no point in being guilt ridden at every failure, it’s important to learn how to take accountability in a balanced way. There are two things crucial for success at work, they go had in hand – self-knowledge and self-confidence.

We all make mistakes sometimes and it’s not just a truism that we learn from our mistakes. Being prepared to tackle a challenge, a difficult situation, or testing circumstances is the mark of a winner. In the face of a testing situation it may seem easier to back away but address the challenge head-on and you will learn about yourself on the way.

In difficult times it’s not possible to wave a wand and have every test result in a great success but it’s important to learn from difficulties and apply that learning to future challenges.

Here’s another quote to finish: “What greater gift than the love of a cat.” Charles Dickens. Whatever gifts you hope to give or receive in the holiday season don’t forget to take joy in the simple things and learn from everything you do.


Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.


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