Design your success by using and growing your strengths every day. For a how-to guide that explains how to make your inspired and desired growth a reality visit https://www.freshconceptsonline.com/unstuck-last/.
Sometimes it’s nice to get a quick reminder of the way we can, and should, direct our attention to our strengths. Below are 9 strengths-based best practices that can help you to grow your business, develop your team, or even improve your life satisfaction.
- Don’t focus on your weaknesses. It’s ok to be aware of your weaknesses but you don’t want to spend too much time trying to improve them. Your greatest areas of potential success lie in your strengths.
- Learn to partner with people who have strengths that are complementary to your strengths. Turn your strengths-envy into a strengths partnership. For example, if you wish you could Woo (Win Over Others), find a Woo who needs your Strategic mind.
- Challenge yourself to use and grow your strengths every day. We experience 10,000 individual moments every day. What if you used 5 of those moments to use and grow your strengths?
- See the strengths of those around you and be a positive force in their lives. Nine out of ten people say they are more productive when they are around positive people. Be the person who others get a jolt of positive energy from! It will benefit both of you.
- Surround yourself with strengths champions. Do you have people in your life who are frenemies (friend + enemy)? Fire them. People who act like a friend but who subtly undermine you or diminish your achievements are preventing you from using your strengths and being the best you that you can be.
- Recognize those who are doing good work. 56% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year. Compliments from a colleague, customer, or stranger can make a person’s day. Recognizing the good work of others and praising that work will help you build a positive network.
- Don’t underestimate the power and importance of your strengths. It is common to misunderstand how some strengths can be used productively. For example, do you think Empathy has no place at work? Or that Harmony means you are unable to handle conflict? Or that your need for Context is holding your back in your future-focused organization? Learn the power of every strength. Draw confidence from knowing that Empathy allows you to understand and diffuse the negative emotions of others, that Harmony allows you to see both sides of an issue, and that Context prevents your team from making the same mistakes that were made 10 years ago.
- Get gritty with your strengths. Using determination to achieve a goal in a proven way to make any goal a reality. Directing your grit towards your natural way of thinking and behaving (your Strengths) is time well-spent because it will make working towards your goals a natural process that feels right.
- Don’t imitate others, be the real YOU. Don’t try to be someone you are not. The chances that you will ever find another person with your “Top 5” Strengths in your order is 1 in 33 million. You are unique and special. Let your uniqueness shine.
To learn more about harnessing your strengths, see Unstuck at Last: Using Your Strengths to Get What You Want.
Make sure you carve out time for yourself, your family, and your friends. Don’t succumb to the temptation to become a work martyr. It’s not in your best interests personally or professionally. Studies show (Project Time Off has a corner on this niche market of research) that PEOPLE WHO DO NOT TAKE TIME OFF are about 25% less likely to receive a promotion and approximately 80% less likely to receive a raise as compared to their peers who actually allow themselves time to enjoy life and relax. Hmm. These figures might seem counter-intuitive to many who work in highly competitive environments, but let’s look deeper at why taking time off promotes productivity and success in all environments, and is critical to long-term success in highly competitive environments.
- You gain perspective when you step away from work.
- You’re relationships improve when you are less pre-occupied with work.
- Your productivity improves when you give yourself a mental and physical break.
- Giving up (some) control over work is good for you.
Effective leaders need to model the right behaviors by taking vacations and by praising individuals who take time to enjoy life while showing an appropriate commitment to work.
Here is a summary of the fascinating statistics Project Time Off has compiled and presented in the video below:
- American workers taking vacation time has been on the decline since 2000, with a small increase in 2016.
- In 2016, 54% of workers left vacations days unused.
- Vacations promote productivity and profitability and decrease accidents.
Summer officially starts in ONE WEEK: Thursday, June 21. Plan a great vacation this summer. It will help you and your workplace.
It’s Friday. Are you thinking about your plans for the weekend or the work you’ll be doing over the weekend? Work-life balance is tough to navigate. The demands that beckon us to work more (like the expectation that emails will be responded to before, during, and after working hours and that we will be responsive to teammates and customers who live in a variety of time zones) are many times inconsistent with the demands felt on the home-front.
Below are a few tips to help you set reasonable boundaries at work and at home:
- You Do You – Only you know what balance will ultimately be right for you. Considering your long and short-term goals related to work, happiness, income, and relationships will help you to construct a framework that will almost certainly have a different look at various times over the span of your life. The priorities of single person with a cat and an apartment to care for may be vastly different from the priorities of a married person with a house and triplets. There is no magic formula for either of these people but looking to someone else’s metrics for happiness will only guarantee failure. Look to the inside of you and what makes you feel happy and proud today and discover the outcomes that give you long-term joy.
- Health – Your body has physiological and psychological needs. Proper nourishment, rest (including sleep), activity, and social interaction are all elements that play a role in your overall health. Ideally, your job can play an active and positive role in your health by giving you meaningful activity and social interaction. Unfortunately, the opposite can also be the case. Relationships that are unnecessarily stressful, working conditions that are emotionally or physically straining, and demands that prevent you from getting the right amount of rest should be evaluated. Your body can be fairly vocal if you decide to stop listening to its subtle messages: illness and accidents are most likely to occur when you ignore the signs of an unhealthy environment.
- Be Engaged at Work and at Home – Being fully present and tapping into your unique talents whether you’re at work or at home is good for your colleagues, your family, and you. “Engagement at work” is today’s buzz word for the human resources department. But both work and home benefit when you are engaged. The ‘old school” way to think about work was that working used us up, drained our energies, and exhausted us physically and mentally. We needed our weekends to recharge and relax because our work week had tapped us out. The opposite is actually true. If you are using the best parts of yourself at work, you should not be depleted at the end of the week. Instead, if you are engaged at work you’re empowered and proud. For example, let’s say you are a fantastic planner and enjoy arranging complex projects. Your boss finally allows you to take the reins and organize a three-day event involving your business and three high profile clients. You knock the project out of the park. Your boss and the clients are all thrilled. You feel happy and energized by the work and the results. At home, this could translate into planning that big surprise birthday trip your spouse has always hinted at wanting. Instead of needing to rest-up after your big project, keep the momentum going and build on this already-established skill set.
- Technology Hiatus – Our lives are more dependent than ever on technology. But our well-being and happiness should not be. Exercise the power to take a technology hiatus on a semi-regular basis. For some people that means no phones at meetings or meals, for others that means taking breaks from social media for specific periods (say Lent or the month of December), for others that means having no-phone and no-email vacations. It is only by disconnecting from our technology that we can re-connect with the people who are sitting across from us. Checking your phone during a meeting or at the dinner table says loud and clear “you’re not as important as what might be on my phone.”
Work-life balance is not easy but it is also not impossible. Good luck.
I am honored to be speaking about Finding Your Strengths at the Successful Women Made Here event on June 7 from 9 a.m. -11 a.m.
Please check your calendars and sign-up using the link here. I hope to see you and your daughter or mentee there!
What is success to you? Watch Matthew McConaughey’s five minute talk and he will give you a framework to think about this question. He believes that before we can determine what success means to us we must first know who we are. Knowing precisely who we are is a more difficult than knowing who we ARE NOT. McConaughey suggests that by discarding the people, paths, and activities that make us feel less than, we make more space and free up more time to to be more than – meaning more who we really are. Once we know who we are, we are more able to become the true architects of our lives and pursue our individual definitions of success.
Another way to look at this same question is to consider what we do best and value most. Our strengths and our values help us to define success. How can we do more of what we love? How can we quit chasing weaknesses? How can we align our abilities with our goals?
Whether you define success as an accomplishment, achievement, fame, family, happiness, prosperity, or victory is not the issue. The real issue is that you create a life filled with abundance and joy on your path to this success.
For more about creating a life filled with joy and success, see Sarah Robinson’s Unstuck at Last: Using Your Strengths to Get What You Want.
The quote above is from Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is one of my favorite historical leaders. In fact, I feel so close to him, I’ve given him a nickname – TJ.
TJ was no slacker. He was a hard worker who accomplished quite a bit in his lifetime. Just five of TJ’s many significant accomplishments include:
- being the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, an amazing document that was created in just 17 days.
- serving as the first U.S. Secretary of State (1790-1793).
- serving as the third President of the United States (1801-1809).
- doubling the size of the United States while President of the United States; this feat was achieved by orchestrating the greatest land deal ever – the Louisiana Purchase.
- founding the University of Virginia in 1819.
This short list shows the magnitude of TJ’s impact, his life-long devotion to hard work, and the good luck he managed to have along the way. It’s a great reminder that hard work always seems to come before luck and not the other way around.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
We are on day 31 of 2018. Thus far, we have experienced 40 days of winter, with 50 days left to go. In Indiana that means too many gray days and not enough “squinting at the sun, unable to see the traffic light, blinded by the gorgeous rays” days.
Having a sunny disposition is contagious. This winter, instead of spreading the common cold, spread a little happiness.
- Smile more: Studies show that if you smile, the people around you will smile. Smiling makes everything better. Do it.
- Consider what you do well. Do more of it. This will make you feel good about yourself and spread your natural talent.
- Give someone a 100% sincere compliment.
- Pet your dog, cat, turtle. This will make both of you happy.
- Help someone. Giving to others is the best way to raise your spirits and someone else’s.
- Express your gratitude.
To curb these deary days, bring your own sunshine. It will warm you and everyone around you.
I’m sure you’re too busy for this 4-minute video but humor me for 2-minutes and I’ll give you a very brief synopsis.
Many of my corporate clients struggle with the issue of working on the RIGHT thing. This video squarely addresses that problem. The most common strength of the 17.5 million people who have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment is Achiever. This means that of those folks who have taken the 45-minute personality assessment, many of them report enjoying getting a lot done every day and making things happen (at work and at home).
However, after years of coaching some of these Achievers (and wrestling with my own Achiever which ranks #3 in my “Top 5” strengths), I have noticed that many of these same people worry that they can work on the WRONG things – for instance the easy things, the things that are “low hanging fruit,” the things that may make your colleague happy but that are not necessarily your top priority. They leave work every day knowing that they were busy, but they have a gnawing feeling that they were not productive. Sound like anyone you know?
Here are four tips that may help you in 2018 and beyond to become productive at work (and not just busy).
- Set priorities – Your top priority should be where you spend your time and effort. Get the critical things done first, INSTEAD OF the easy things.
- Start saying “No” – This is a big challenge for many of my clients who enjoy reaping the respect of others by helping and seeming to be the “go-to” person when there is a difficult task at hand due to their stellar work ethic. My suggestion to those who love saying “Yes” is to say, “Yes, but not now.” If saying “yes” to helping others on tasks that are not your top priority is your number one productivity distraction, test out this technique.
- Set realistic deadlines – Giving yourself too much time (or not enough time) to accomplish tasks can also be problematic. Breaking large priorities into smaller tasks is the best way to initiate difficult projects. Setting the appropriate timeline to complete these smaller tasks will create a positive snowball effect in that you can build on your small success day after day.
- Create short “to-do” lists – Many of the busy people I coach create long lists every day of all of the things they plan to accomplish. I have met more than a handful of these same people who keep their past notepads containing these lists for posterity. Ok, there may be a tiny chance that they’ll need to know in the future that they started working on a certain project on May 14, 2015 but it’s much more likely that these old notebooks are only used as a self-soothing technique to give evidence to worried Achievers of just how much work these dedicated individuals have put in year-in and year-out. The proof is not for their boss, mind you, it’s for them. High Achievers love to know they are getting lots done, and these old lists – with check marks at the side, or lines crossing out the tasks listed – are a way to show themselves in black and white that they have a long history of getting things done. Unfortunately, these old lists only show how busy they were every day, not how productive they were each year. If your habit has been to create a long daily to-do list, try something different in 2018. Create a daily 1-3 item list that forces you to consider your biggest priorities every day.
Best of luck for a PRODUCTIVE and happy year.