Pioneered by the research of Barbara Frederickson, the theory of “Build-and-Broaden” shows that positive emotions increase the number of potential behavioural options. When this is applied in the workplace, it is clear that focusing upon strengths yields much greater performance and results. At The Coach Approach, we encourage you to heed the advice shared by Peter Drucker:
“Waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. Concentration should be on areas of high competence and high skill. It takes far more energy and far more work to improve from incompetence to low mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. And yet most people, and equally most teachers and most organisations, try to concentrate on making an incompetent person into a low mediocrity. The energy and resources – and time – should instead go into making a competent person into a star performer.”
It is a well-documented fact that we are far more likely to fulfill our potential by focusing on our strengths rather than on our weaknesses. In the words of Peter Drucker, renowned management consultant: “It’s the abilities, not the disabilities, that count”!
Awareness of our character strengths can be a really helpful tool for building capacity – going from first-rate to excellent. Understanding character strengths is also essential for developing new paths for engagement, satisfaction and fulfillment on the job. Last but not least, this approach can also be used for problem-solving. Experience this for yourself and for your team by trying these 3 simple steps:
1) Identify your top character strengths using the free VIA online test (www.viasurvey.org)
2) Identify a problem that you need to deal with
3) Ask yourself how you can apply your specific character strengths to solving this problem
“The real tragedy in life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths, it’s that we fail to use the ones we have.” (M. Buckingham and D. Clifton in Now, “Discover Your Strengths”)
The American psychologist James Hillman first proposed the “acorn theory” in his book entitled “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling”. He suggested that every individual already holds their potential inside themselves from birth, just as the acorn already holds the pattern for an oak tree. Each individual’s unique energy becomes actualized through their choices and actions in life once they answer their life calling, much like an acorn turns into an oak tree and matures when it finally blossoms. Without denying the existence of both nature and nurture in human development, let’s look at our own individual achievements, character, and aspirations and ask ourselves: “How am I responding to my inner acorn?”
Imagine that someone asked you today: “What is your purpose, what is your vision and what are your goals?” Would you be able to answer those questions? For many people, more time is spent planning what to eat for dinner than planning for life. But without a vision, we continue to live the life we have always known; and if our vision isn’t anchored in our purpose then we can easily get lost.
Think of a pyramid of building blocks. At the bottom are our goals which support our vision that is driven by a higher purpose. Simply put, the vision represents what we want to create with our life. The goal represents the various aspects of how we are doing it, and the purpose answers the question “why?”.
So try taking the time today to clarify your own answers to these questions: “What really matters to me? What’s my purpose? What’s the vision? What would I create with my life a year from now if it’s grounded and driven by my purpose and then what steps might I take?”
It’s that time of year again when we have turned the page and are facing our year end schedules. But let’s not think that we’re stuck in this end-of-year drama …
What if, at any time we choose, we could have a clean slate – a brand new beginning? What would you do differently if you gave yourself this gift of a completely fresh start?
This gift is available to every one of us any time we choose to receive it! By letting go of our focus on the past, we choose to practice compassion with ourselves and allow new seeds to emerge. Let’s not carry the weight of the past in the forefront of our minds, but instead consciously give ourselves the gift of a new beginning each morning.
10 questions to discover true worth and claim back power
1. When (at what specific situations) do you feel really great?
2. What are you good at? What makes you a special person?
3. What compliments do you receive from others?
4. How will your life be different when you develop higher self-esteem?
5. In which areas would you like to develop self-esteem the most?
6. How will you do that? Which skills do you need? Who can help you?
7. What is it that you will be able to do/be/have when you have higher self-esteem?
8. What is your specific goal in raising your self-esteem? How will you measure it and know for sure when you have reached it?
9. What action steps can you take to claim that self-worth which is so rightfully yours?
10. Who else will benefit by your stepping into confidence and claiming it for yourself?
Fauja Singh, a 100-year-old Briton has become the world’s oldest marathon runner after finishing a race in Toronto, Canada.
He took up running at the age of 89, after loosing his wife & son, to give himself a new focus on life – at the age of 89!
When asked that enticing question about the secret of a long and healthy life he gave 5 pieces of advice:
Mr Singh said: “The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running.”
What would your answer be to your needs for a long and healthy life?
In the words of Monty Winters,
‘This is your life. Do what you love and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop overanalysing, all emotions are beautiful.Life is simple. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your minds, arms and heart to new people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often, getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them.Life is about the people you meet, and then things you create with them so go out and start creating. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.’
What’s your philosophy for a life well lived?
J. K. Rowling, author of the celebrated Harry Potter series, wrote that:
“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” .
It would be very easy to dismiss her comment, assuming that her phenomenal imagination and writing talent led her to live a golden life. But as those of you who are familiar with her life are aware, Rowling’s story can be characterized as much by her tenacity as by her talent. Her choice to persevere in writing – in the face of seemingly overwhelming obstacles as a single parent along with many initial rejections from publishers – led to the birthing of a legacy.
So the next time you find yourself thinking that you are defined by your abilities, stop and switch tracks immediately. Focus instead on what is most important to you and what your deepest values are. Then you can show your true colours – and share in connecting something bigger than yourself!