less than 2 out of ten of us get to play to our strengths at work…

My friend Tim shared with me a video he caught from an except shared by a keynote speaker he heard at a recent conference. He was inspired enough to seek out the entire video. The short film is a discussion on strengths, discovering true strengths, and cultivating them. It also takes on the conventional thinking what Marcus Buckingham calls the myths of thinking about personal strengths.

There is weekly discussion in one of my graduate courses on management, and supervision. These discussions have been helping me in the process of forming my own ideas around the importance in making sure people are in the right job and the right skills are being cultivated. A recent MSNBC segment about aptitude testing and pigeonholing young students in a specific track lead to a generative conversation with my partner about how we want to ensure the girls do not get tracked but have many opportunities to truly discover their strengths, interests and passions. We are still struggling from time to time to find the best way to parent the differences in the girls. And now, this video was hand delivered to me. This is one of those moments when I have come to realize that there is a message being delivered and that convergence of messages is so prevalent that it has become obvious. Usually this awareness only comes in hindsight.

Buckingham says in the video that “less than 2 out of ten of us get to play to our strengths at work.” He asks the question are you one who gets to work this way and do you want to be? Chapter one explores the myths which I discuss below and chapter two  goes into how to find your personal strengths or what he calls “any activity that makes you feel strong”. It’s just over 30 minutes if you watch both chapters. It’s downloadedable on iTunes too. Watch:

Here is some of the nuggets I took from chapter 1… Myths to explode so that you can spend more time being deliberate and performing to your strengths:

Myth 1 – As you grow you change. (5:35)

This is the belief instilled in us all that you are supposed to grow up, be more well rounded and balanced, you know, become an adult. The truth “as you grow you become more and more and more of who you already are”. SO, DON’T REPLACE THOSE TRAITS, CHANNEL THEM. Dreams, circumstances, achievements may change but your core stays constant. Use it.

Myth 2 – You are going to grow the most where you are weakest.

The structure of educational systems in its current form says that when it was discovered that you “were good at math but not very good at english you didn’t get more math you got more english”. However, while you don’t ignore the weakness, you should understand that you will actual grow the most in the areas of strength. Manage the weakness but INVEST IN THE AREAS OF YOUR NATURAL STRENGTH.

Myth 3 –  What the team needs from you is to put aside your strengths and do whatever it takes to help the team win.

This one actually appeals to me the most in relation to the development of my own ideology. If you are building great teams then you should be seeking the different individual strengths that people bring. Each person doesn’t have all the assets to fit all the roles needed. It’s the team that is a collection of the skills needed to accomplish the goal not any one individual. WHAT THE TEAM NEEDS IS FOR INDIVIDUALS TO KNOW HIS or HER STRENGTHs AND TO USE THEM MOST OF THE TIME. “Figure out what the best is that you’ve got to bring and then bring it often” (13:01)

What I take away from this overall is confirmation in the belief that as people we have to be self aware. We must examine what we have as strengths, be realistic about our weaknesses. Know how to cultivate those strengths to the best of our ability and finally, share them with others. In the process of leading others this takes a different shape but I believe a true leader is the one who knows how to help others achieve this goal. This to me is the best thing a leader has to offer, the ability to see strengths and weaknesses in people, processes, etc. and how best to cultivate and effectively utilize to reach the desired outcome.

If you want to learn more, here is Marcus Buckingham’s website.

Buckingham, Marcus. Chapter One: So What’s Stopping You?. podcast video. Trombone Player Wanted. M4V. 15:34. accessed March 10, 2013. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trombone-player-wanted/id211839820.

Reguyal, Nathan, http://vimeo.com/53651982#

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