Winter at Lofoten (2008). By Tackbert. Public Domain.

Hidden High Potentials are “Unemployable” But He Wants Them

Forrest Christian Overachievers, Underachievers 2 Comments

I’m off in the Northwest this week, working with a startup I’m helping out in Vancouver. I took the flight to Seattle and rented a car, deciding that in the end it was still a sight cheaper and I’d be able to hit both cities in one trip. We’ve decided to relocate the businesses out to this region, so I’m also out here investigating how Seattle works. Northern Indiana, for all it’s charms, has been rather dismal for my business; all my clients have come from other areas of the country, or out of it.

As the planed started its descent, the guy sitting in the row with me started up a conversation. He had overheard that I was a consultant in safety and was in energy, the oil/gas/coal type. (I’m an EPA-certified trainer, and do Lead Safe Practices classes for renovators for the April 22 deadline, in addition to all the other things my company does.) He was doing some fascinating, game-changing projects, and it turned out that he ran a capital firm in BC. We ended up stopping our talk about half an hour after we had made it to baggage claim.

Fun for me, of course, but what was really interesting what that we touched on Hidden High Potentials.

He knows what you are. And he wants you.

We got talking about you people because he was mentioning the type of people (mostly physics related) that he was looking for. When I mentioned that I called you people “hidden high potentials”, he said that was a great term for you.

And it is. Because, as you know, I’ve got your number.

Anyway, he proceeded to detail what I’ve been saying about hidden high potentials for a long time. It was remarkably refreshing to have someone understand (and tell me!) that hidden high potentials have “employment problems.”

“They’re unemployable,” said the man who wants to hire them.

The unemployable comes from a couple of things, neither of which will come as a surprise to you if you’ve been paying attention here for very many weeks.

The first is that fact that you have a hard time focusing. Everything is just so interesting that you can’t stay on one thing! That’s really not that big of a problem, at least not in my eyes. But I do web consulting, IT organizational consulting, career coaching, teach EPA seminars to renovators and Work Levels webinars to you people, ghost write for management consultants, and try to bring together the Consortium of You Folks that is The Manasclerk Company. It would be like the pot calling the kettle “an iron-rich nutritional preparation device that is dark in appearance”.

You also don’t do disciplines very well. Warren Kinston, my old boss, might say that you don’t speak the language of the Disciplinary Life work domain, but speak one of the other ones. (You also don’t speak Organizational Life, as we have observed.) This makes you very difficult to put into the little pigeon hole.

Add to this the fact that you often have problems in navigating employment for a Real Boss, and thereby never achieve the Power Centeredness element.

Anyway, it was wildly refreshing to talk to someone who seemed to remind me of Wilfred Brown, someone who understood hidden high potentials and understood the value that they bring to the table.

Winter at Lofoten (2008). By Tackbert. Public Domain.

Comments 2

  1. Hey Forrest,

    Great post. I always thought that the term “HPP” simply meant high mode. It sounds like you define the term as high mode AND having certain languages of work. I assume it is possible to have an organization language of work and still be high mode. i.e. presidents of stratum 7 banks.

    Your article was also comforting because it felt like you were describing me to a tee! I am currently exploring a number of different employment opportunities some of which are not mutually exclusive. Your post made me realize that perhaps I should drop my irrational preference for having a single source of employment. Purusuing multiple paths simultaneously might make more sense for me.


  2. Post

    I’ve discovered that the HHPs I encounter tend towards other work domains. I find them a lot less interesting. Some of the leaders of large organizations are also competent in another work domain (Lee Raymond comes to mind).

    Note that one of the problems that this guy identifies is the lack of focus. You have to pick something and eliminate other things, atnd attempt to build a career. Too much careening will leave you “unemployable”, as he noted.

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