Monday, October 12, 2009

Strengthen Your Strengths

Strengthen Your Strengths
By Jenny Flintoft

A recent survey asked managers and leaders in work, "How often do you feel really energized in work and by what you do?" 73% of people answered "Once a week."

None of us can win on "once a week". This can lead to people feeling that they're in the wrong job or they've outgrown the role.

But actually, there is not a single job in the world that any of us would love to be doing every minute of our working hours. None of us, no matter how contented we are at work, loves our entire job, because our job doesn't consist of one single activity. It comprises many different activities - some of which stimulate us, some which we can take or leave, and others which completely drain us of our energy and motivation. Given this, holding out for that perfect "dream job" could be viewed as a fool's game.

So our challenge now is to dramatically increase how often we play to our strengths. We need to take our existing job and each week, reshape it around our strengths - even in the face of obstacles from the world around us. Put this discipline into practice each week and we'll gradually, degree by degree, tilt the playing field so that the best of our job becomes most of our job.

The following exercise is adapted from Marcus Buckingham's highly-acclaimed book: "Now, Put your Strengths to Work".

Your Task This Week

- Think about the activities which make up your working week. Make a list of all the activities which you consider a strength; which motivate you; excite you; energize you; that make the time simply fly by!

- Now you're going to start to look for ways to "FREE" your strengths. Free stands for:
- Focus - Identify how this specific strength helps you in your current role
- Release - Find the missed opportunities in your current role
- Educate - Learn new skills and techniques to build this strength
- Expand - Build your job around this strength

- Focus
. Perhaps now, more than ever, is the time for you to clearly demonstrate - and shout up to those in authority - what your unique strengths are and how they positively contribute to the success of your role. Big yourself up!

- Release
. Organizations are looking for people to do more with less; be more; contribute more. Whilst this can often feel overwhelming, what if you were to do more of the stuff that energizes and motivates you? How would that be? Take some time to identify where - however small - you could use more of your unique strengths, and if you did - what would the role/team/your boss/the business benefit as a result of you doing so? Sell the benefits!

- Educate. Where else can you learn to build this strength even further? Are there any books/websites you could research? Attend a training course? Get some high-impact coaching? What could you do to make this strength even more robust - and enjoy doing so? Make your strength watertight!

- Expand. Once you've developed your strength even further, look at how you could shape your job to better accommodate your strength. That way, you'll feel more motivated because you're doing more of what energizes you and the business benefits, because you're operating at your best and delivering your best, more of the time.

- Every week, look for 1 or 2 actions that you could take, that will help strengthen your strength - and go do them!

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