The Strengths Series – part 3
Let’s get practical – home and work.
The final instalment of the strengths series is about to get you thinking about actions, and actually making them happen. With the first two stages it’s been very much about reflection, thinking, a bit of self-coaching but this next focus is for those who love to get an action plan in place. What you should have now is clear insight into what makes you feel brilliant, what drains you and a good reminder of your values. Have all of that in front of you as a little reminder as we explore how you can use this (possibly new found) info!
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is if strengths-based coaching and development is only for the work place – and the answer is a very definite NO! Working with strengths and a growth mindset is the gift that keeps on giving wherever you are. Your strengths come from your values and beliefs, and what drives you doesn’t change when you get home or when you arrive at work. How it shows up (or manifests) will be slightly different depending on your environment but ultimately, you are who you are.
So how do you make the most of your strengths? Here are my top tips on doing more of what you love…
Have a list of your top 3 most important strengths to you i.e. the ones that lift you the most or make the biggest positive change to you when you’re using them. Now you have them, figure out where you can use them more. I’ll give you an example…let’s say one of your strengths is creativity.
- Firstly, creativity will mean something specific to you – it might be hands on art work or could be thinking creatively for example. Once you know what it means to you take a look around your day to day habits, where can you bring creativity into things you’re already doing? Maybe you want to re-design a report at work, go at your wardrobe with a fresh pair of eyes, shuffle your furniture or cupboards around, get the kids craft box out and lose yourself (with or without them) in some painting…the options are endless because your strengths will be unique to you.
- Focusing on 3 is your start point – of course you’ve got more than 3 strengths but starting small will limit any overwhelm. Doing more of what you love isn’t about needing to take up loads of time, it’s about looking at what you’re already doing and changing your mindset on how you approach it.
- If you’re heading back to work after any sort of extended leave, this growing list of strengths is a great conversation to have with a line manager. You can let them have a handy reminder of where you’ll add lots of value, be at your best and ultimately it has a mega impact on your engagement (which for those of you who are interested, employers who are engaged in what they’re doing will work harder and results will improve!)
Talk to your ‘team’ using the strengths language. When I say team, I mean any interpretation – home, work, virtual, utility companies, neighbours…anything goes.
- Explain to them / casually drop in what energises you, what leaves you feeling great and what you’d love to do more of. In turn you can ask them the same thing, always making sure you frame it as what makes them feel good rather than the things they’re skilled at first and foremost (remember you can become great at the things that motivate you though if you’re not already).
- Then have the other side of the conversation – the things that drain you. You’ll start to find that you tune into them more, the longer you work with your strengths and suddenly conversations will open up that could get some of those drainers off your list. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure and all that…there could be something that you put off doing that your friend / work mate / partner loves to do and would welcome taking it on for you.
- Again, if you’ve had some time out of the workplace and projects / tasks etc have shifted while you’ve been away it can feel incredibly daunting, especially if you’re asked what ‘role’ you want to go back to. However, take out the competencies and replace it with what you’re energised by and suddenly you’ll have a brighter picture of where you’re going to be happy and performing at your peak.
Plan your day around your strengths. I mentioned this in my previous post BUT it’s a favourite and can take a bit of practise so I’m putting here again! I can’t say I do it all the time, however when I do I really feel the difference. It takes a bit of planning but it’s totally worth it…
- Have a look at how you work during the day, whatever ‘work’ is for you. You’ll have peaks and troughs of energy, yes? If you don’t already know when you work at your best plot it over 7 – 10 days to get a good idea. So for example, when people describe themselves as a morning person, or a night owl, or always needing a sugar hit at 3pm? Yeah, all of those clichés are clichés for a reason!
- Now you have a picture of your energy levels you get overlap your tasks and strengths in two ways. The method I use is to pick off things I’m drained by and usually put off into the times of the day I’m most energised. I’m not going from a low base and there’s much less chance I’ll get distracted, and vice versa. The link between strengths, values and beliefs means that you’re more likely to stick at doing something you enjoy (sounds obvious doesn’t it) so those times when I know I’ll do anything other than want to work, I save the best bits for then!
- There is a school of thought that would suggested doing what you love when you’re at your most awake and energised because you’ll be massively efficient and flying high already, so you can always give that a go too and see which way round works best for you.
And there you have it – three stages to introduce you to a strengths-based approach to life! It’s an incredibly practical and accessible way to live, but it’s quite different to most of our regular habits so I know first-hand it takes time. The great news is though that once you’ve started, it’ll grow, and you’ll be preaching the benefits and realistic ways you can do more of what you love before you know it.
If you want to ask any specifics on this particular topic you can drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to answer any quick queries, I know it can take a bit of practice to get into the swing of working with what energises you but once you do I promise it unlocks a spark that you won’t want to lose.