I first heard about the strengths theory in 1993 and was mesmerized when I found Donald’s Clifton’s book that he wrote with Paula Nelson in 1992 titled Soar with Your Strengths. I had spent so much of my life focused on what was wrong with me and trying to fix it as well as downplaying what I was good at because that was considered vain and bragging. And there, in one paragraph, suddenly I’m being given permission to not only acknowledge but celebrate my strengths AND use them to the maximum because not only will it make me happier, more confident, and productive, it will make me a better performer and help everyone I come in contact with to be encouraged to do the same!
Here’s the updated version of that paragraph in Marcus Buckingham’s book The Truth About You that changed my life:
(Pages 41-43) “A weakness is any activity that leaves you feeling weaker after you do it. It doesn’t matter how good you are it or how much money you make doing it. If doing it drains you of energy, you’d be crazy to build your career around it.
Of course, a strength is the opposite. A strength—your strengths are any activities that make you feel strong. To discover your strengths, you must look beyond what you are good atand pay really close attention to what you are feeling before, during and after the activity. Your feelings will tell you what your strengths are.
“Here’s a simple way to remember what to look for when trying to spot your strengths:
S = Success. If you have some success at the activity, it may be a strength.
I = Instinct. If, before you do it, you find yourself instinctively looking forward to doing it, it may be a strength.
G = Growth. If, while you’re doing it, you find yourself easily able to concentrate (your synapses firing, your brain literally growing), it may be a strength.
N = Needs. If, after you’ve done it, it feels like it fulfills a need of yours, it may be a strength”
My work as a professional speaker and writer changed that year and every program and published writing I’ve done since then has included the message of appreciating and acting on and from your strengths. In fact, that theme runs through both of my books.
In My Mother, My Friend, it’s all about focusing on your mother’s strengths and using that to help you identify and use your own strengths and hers to strengthen, heal and celebrate that relationship.
In Living with Enthusiasm, you learn how to apply your strengths to turn your funk into fun and stress into success every day.
These books are a great beginning and they’re just a beginning. Add regular reinforcement and practice through interactive in-person meetings, and you can increase morale and team performance dramatically. In a challenging economy, identifying and building on personal strengths is a great way to keep your organization moving forward.
If you’d like to bring the Strengths Revolution to your organization, along with other leading-edge positive psychology ideas and resources that are life-changing in a dynamic, interactive format, email or call me at (858) 792-6786. My services include strengths coaching and presenting a keynote speech, training seminar, onsite workshop, in-service, leadership retreat, or sales meeting. This is such exciting information and I’d love to share more of it with you!