Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
Chances are you don’t. I didn’t just like most of my clients, colleagues and friends also didn’t. All too often our natural talents go untapped. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to ixing our weaknesses than to developing our strengths. It is part of our culture, including many organizational cultures. The cost of it is staggering.
In recent Gallup poll, among those who “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” with: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day” statement, not one single person was emotionally engaged on the job. The vast majority of people is so busy providing for families or to keep the job in highly unemployed society, that the opportunity to focus on what they do best is rather non-existent. Gallup surveyed more than 10 million people on this specific topic, and approximately 7 million are falling short.
What happens when you are not in the “strengths zone”? You become a different person. In the workplace, you are six times less likely to be engaged in your job. When you are not able to use your strengths at work, chances are that you:
• Dread going to work
• Have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues
• Treat your customers poorly
• Tell your friend what a miserable company you work for
• Achieve less on daily bases
• Have fewer positive and creative moments
Beyond the world of work, there are even more serious implications for your health and relationships if you are not in the strengths zone.
In stark contrast, people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths and apply them in their jobs are six times likely to be engaged in their jobs, and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.
So why don’t we live life with a strength-based approach?
There could be many reasons.
For over two decades of my life I simply didn’t know what I am good at. My clients experience similar issue being unaware of, and unable to describe their own strengths.
We live in the world that is fixed on deficits. Schooling and educational systems could be a good example. Parents and teachers often reward excellence with apathy and stress on improving grades in the areas we are not good at. The reality is that the person, who always struggled with numbers, is unlikely to be a great statistician or accountant.
Most parents and teachers want us to focus more time and attention to improve the lowest grades. he problem with this is simply that we can’t be good in everything. Even the legendary Mike Tyson who embodied the power of raw talent in boxing, could not become the best golf or basketball player, no matter how hard he tried.
Each of us has a great potential for success in specific areas, and the key to your further development is to build on who you already are and what you are good at.
Another reason for not living life based on strengths could be that we work in the environments where management ignores us or focuses on our weaknesses instead of pointing and building our strengths. However, the epidemic of active disengagement we see in the workplace, or in our lives, could be curable just as much as we can become more aware of our own strengths. Learning about your strengths will offer you great benefits if you have opportunity to practice and develop them in real world.
The formula to inking your strengths is this:
Talent × Investment = Strength (ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance)
First step is to discover your dominant talent; a natural way of thinking, feeling and behaving – and then add skills, knowledge and practice. You will need to invest time for it.
Knowledge, skills, and practice quite important parts of the strengths equation. Without basic facts in your mind and skills at your disposal, talent can go untapped.
Once you found your talent it is easier to add knowledge and skills to your repertoire. For example if leadership is your natural talent, you can always take a course on leadership development, just as you can always learn how to use certain leadership style to it the situation.
If you find it difficult to name all of your talents, take a step back, and you will see that talents often have something in common, something that connects them.
For example: I have a natural tendency to share thoughts, to create stories, and to find a perfect word – the common theme of this talent is communication.
Another example: My client has a natural sense of commitment, dependability, and avoidance of excuses – the common theme here is: Responsibility Talents.
To begin to think, talk and act on your talents, you can start by calling them using the theme, for example: Communication or Responsibility Talents.
Is it still difficult to discover what your talent could be? If it is read on, and do the following test.
The survey is composed of 120 questions and shouldn’t take you longer than 15–20 minutes. It can be time worth spending, considering that finding and application of your strengths can help you increase confidence, happiness at home and work, improve relationships, discover balance with your health, and achieve goals.
I also want to share few steps and ideas that proved to work for my coaching clients, who were on the quest of searching for their strengths and talents. It requires a little bit of self-observation and self- reflection, so have your pen and paper handy for some of the following tips.
Five steps to finding and developing your strengths
If you are into the business press like I am, you will quickly notice how oten it showcases the heroes of industry and business gurus, such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or Sheryl Sandberg.
As much as we love business visionaries like them – we are simply not them. We have a set of our own unique talents, which can be used in many ways to bring out the best in ourselves and others.
Here are 5 ways to find and develop your own strengths and put them to work in your professional and personal life.
1. Don’t compare yourself with others – make contact with people who inspire, and even intimidate, you
Are there people in your life who wow or even intimidate you? Are you jealous of them? Consider aligning yourself with people you feel competitive toward – it’s a new world and we have much to learn from each other.
2. Ask other people
People in your life are likely to notice things about your personality and talents which you haven’t. Chat to a family member, friend, colleague, or your coach about what they see as the best parts of your personality.
3. Pay attention to what energizes you and what you are most proud of
If you’re proud of something you have done and achieved, then think of what exactly have you applied to achieve it. Did it require focus, creativity, bravery etc.? What activities energize you and make you want to soar?
4. Ask yourself: “When do I feel most like myself?”
When you apply yourself effortlessly, and feel happy while doing it, it is a sign of using natural strengths. For example, you might be happiest when you’re making other people laugh. his could indicate that you’re using your natural strength of humor.
5. Eliminate your weaknesses by partnering with others
Albert Einstein was initially a failure who leaned heavily on his wife. Many now believe she ultimately helped him devise his famous equation. Let’s be honest: He was a dreamer with his head in the clouds (and thank goodness he was). He came to success in roundabout ways. His wife kept her head on straight and together they accomplished greatness. That is the value of having a partner and team, varieties of perspectives, talents, and skills to get the job done. How is your team?
Do you have someone’s back? Do they have yours? Are there complimentary skill sets involved? If you have people who believe in you, you can go far together. Whether it’s a mentor, employee, or co-worker, get their back and let them get yours.