Why and How Your Work Can Be More Fruitful Than a Garden
Just as it seemed winter would never end the garden catalogs started to arrive. One in January, a couple in February and no less than four have arrived this month. With each catalog I’m more hopeful. Everything seems possible when there are pages upon pages of flowers, and fruit, shrubs and vegetables to peruse.
The promise and power of plants amazes me. Just as the promise and potential of people has intrigued me. Each when given a bit of attention, the right circumstance and time can develop into extraordinary specimens.
As you read the pages of the garden catalog at your home, imagining daffodils and daisies, tulips and tomatoes, peonies and peaches in your yard, I invite you to take time to consider your professional "garden."
Plant Your Seeds of Success
Is it the season to plant new "seeds" of professional development?
Good news you already have the seeds. And they are ready to grow.
The seeds in your personal “catalog” are your innate traits, what I call best-of-self traits, like leadership, social Intelligence, integrity, humor, critical thinking (and 19 more). These are tremendous strengths, loaded with potential. They transcend your skills and competencies: they’re the foundational character traits you were born with (versus skills you acquired over time).
Simply put your strengths are the things you like to do and have always been good at doing. Sometimes these things are so natural you don't even notice them (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). You feel good using them because strengths help you make progress on your goals and meet your basic human needs for independence, relationship, and competence (Linley, et al., 2010).
Your Work Can Be More Fruitful
Give that we spent at least one third of waking hours at work, feeling that what you do has a purpose and is just the right fit matters.
When you love what you do it is because what do you is well matched to these strengths. You flow effortlessly through tasks. The more you are able to use your strengths, the more your best-of-self is highlighted and enhanced. The easier it is use to make the most of what you are good at, and the easier it is to draw upon strengths that are beginning to germinate.
Good Things Happen When You Have the Opportunity to Do What You Do Best
Ask yourself do you have the opportunity what you do best each day?
What is possible when do you have that opportunity?
A new survey of American workers indicates that 70% of the workforce who know their strengths are engaged. Further, 78% of the American workforce who have meaningful discussions about their strengths with their manager are engaged at work (McQuaid & VIA Institute, 2015). That is in stark contrast to overall level of engagement for American workers, which is 30% (Gallup, 2013).
The Growth of Strengths
This research also suggests that there is a significant shift in peoples’ idea about what is the key to success. Now, 64% of American workers believe that focusing on strengths is the key to success, while 36% believe that focusing on weakness is the key (McQuaid & VIA Institute, 2015). In 2007 the opposite was true; 63% believed that focusing on weakness was the key, while 34% believed that focusing strengths was the key (Buckingham, 2007).
A Simple Way to Start Identifying and Cultivating Your Strengths
Take a few minutes to write down your answers to the questions below.
· What do people consistently say you do well or compliment you about (even if you don’t agree or it makes you uncomfortable)?
“You see the long game and the short game.” Translation, perspective.
“I know you’ll think things through from all angles.” Translation, critical thinking.
· What do you most value about yourself and the way you work? (Don’t be humble!)
“Organizing activities and seeing them through with the team” Translation, Leadership
“If I am going to do it, I am not going to be half-heated about it.” Translation, Zest.
Keep writing until you have at least of 24 different strengths. Those are your best-of-self traits, your best strengths. They are what is great about you.
Now you ask yourself:
- When do these strengths really work for me?
- How can I cultivate the opportunity to do what I do best each day?
I’d love to hear what you discover about your strengths and making the most of them. Just leave a note in the comments.