“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson.
Are you cringing to read that quote? Is it too vain? An impossibility for you? But deep down, would you actually like to be all these things at work, and in everyday life? Surely you would if you could?
Actually it’s not that hard. The trick is to identify and use our strengths. Not only WHAT we can do, but rather HOW we approach our jobs – how we handle situations, relate to others, give and receive information, what we pay attention to and how we get motivated. When we act or communicate in ways that align with our strengths we get a buzz. We feel like the “real” and “best” versions of ourselves.
Researchers at the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology in the UK surveyed more than 40,000 people and observed 60 performance-based strengths. Their tool, the R2 Profiler, ranks strengths for each person according to 3 dimensions – how often the strength is used, how well the strength is performed and how energising it feels to use the strength. The research clearly shows that when we use our strengths more, we’re more likely to kick goals at work, feel more motivated and confident and have higher levels of wellbeing.
So, for peak performance at work, it’s best to be good at something, AND feel energised by it. You may excel in putting together complicated spreadsheets, but Detail may grind you down, leaving you feeling flat and cranky. Your performance can start to suffer. You can overuse your strengths. You may be the most creative Problem-solver in the office, but if you’re called on constantly, you can burn out.
On the plus side, you may have strengths you aren’t aware of, but when you start using them, your energy, output and wellbeing go sky high. For example, when a project goes pear-shaped, knowing how to bring together your strengths of Persistence or Optimism might give you the boost to rise above the challenges and feel energised in the process.
If we need a particular strength for our jobs but its lower on our strengths list, we can marshal others that are higher, to compensate. For example, if you need to do a lot of networking for your job, your strength may not be in small talk, but you may be energised by asking others questions using your strengths of Curiosity, or through Narrating stories, or by finding common ground in Humour.
Take myself as a coach for example. I love to use my strength of Explainer to take complex ideas and express them to clients simply and clearly. I love my job because I use my strength of Legacy every day to make a difference to others. I regularly engage in professional development and this fuels my strength of Growth.
At Flourishing Mothers, we work with our clients’ strengths to help them recraft their way of working to enjoy their jobs more, and to help them find work they love.
Here’s 5 ways you can begin to spot your strengths:
- 1.What activities give you a buzz when you do them?
- 2.What are you doing when you feel like the “real you”?
- 3.What activities come naturally to you, it seems without even trying?
- 4.Do you have activities you do simply for the love of them?
- 5.Monitor your tone of voice, facial expressions or body language – when you notice a shift in passion, energy and engagement, you’re probably talking about or using your strengths.
So take the strengths challenge and be brilliant and fabulous at work and every day!
Debra is a founding FlexCoach and her mission is to help mothers thrive at work and in life. She has over 15 years of experience in Marketing and Management in the corporate sector. You can view her profile here.