You Are Successful Because of Who You Are, Not Who You Aren’t
From an early age, we as humans tend to gravitate towards what we are good at and shy away from the things that give us hardship. We relish the feeling of accomplishment and appreciate being rewarded, but those feelings are often hollow if we feel disengaged or believe that what we do has no meaning. The pursuit of finding our place in the larger scheme of things is crucial to our innate drive; we need to feel like we’re serving some deep purpose divorced from the motions of cashing out our biweekly paychecks.
Work Flow, Not Workflow
Flow, as coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced: Me high? Cheeks send me high!) is equated to the feeling you get when you look up at the clock after churning out a massive amount of energizing work, and realizing that over four hours have passed with the blink of an eyelid. When the perfect combination of creativity, meaning, intellect, and talent are blended, you tend to fall into flow. Flow often results from engaging in activities that are intrinsically motivated, therefore putting control into the hands of the doer, and finds a healthy balance between challenge and skill.
How great would it be if every single day at work felt like this? It turns out that there are a couple of ways to ensure that your role at your current job is set up in an ideal way to achieve true flow. For starters, taking the Gallups Strengths Finder assessment, can assist in identifying a variety of themes that motivate you and can help you pinpoint where exactly you derive meaning from in your job. Some examples of these themes are futuristic (you like thinking about big picture solutions), relater (you thrive from finding the common thread among different types of people and things), and input (you like collecting information from a wide range of sources). These themes are further categorized into larger leadership buckets as shown below. Gallup Strengths Finder can get fairly specific, so it can both help you identify your strengths and determine if you’re incorporating these strengths in your current job. If these themes fall outside the scope of what your role entails, it might even be worth reconsidering whether you’re in the right job.
Be Your Own Coach
Don’t just wait for opportunities that leverage your strengths to be served to you on a silver platter, or to wait for someone else to magically figure out what you’re good at. The reality is that others are often too preoccupied with their own personal discovery to devote that level of attention to you. It’s ultimately your responsibility.
If you discover that you’re not in a role that’s the right fit for you, it’s completely okay and actually highly recommended that you take a risk and plan to make the shifts that you need to. The insights that one job can bring to your next position is part of what makes the coveted “well rounded employee”. The dynamics of workplaces are constantly changing, and there isn’t a single route to get from point A to B. Taking control of your own path will ultimately empower you to continue to take disciplined risks and harness your inner innovative side.
Weaknesses are Distractions
Wait, but I thought that I needed to work on my weaknesses and blindspots! Am I being ignorant if I choose to focus solely on my strengths?
While it is extremely helpful to be aware of your blind spots, there is always a line to be drawn. We are human after all and therefore imperfect. The more you fixate on your weaknesses, the greater the likelihood that they may consume you and lead to counterproductive tendencies. Have you heard of the “pink elephant” adage? The more that you encourage someone to avoid thinking about pink elephants, the more their minds float toward thinking about pink elephants! Similarly, when you continue to ponder your weaknesses, you’re setting yourself up to be paralyzed by them; this behavior can even affect the delivery of some of your strength areas.
Secondly, in the spectrum of strengths and weaknesses that we all possess, there are a great deal of weaknesses that just will never manifest in our immediate environments. Therefore, it’s logical to set aside some of those weaknesses when they aren’t relevant to our current job situation, and choose to focus on our own positive attributes.
At the end of the day, focusing on your strengths puts the ball in your court. This practice gives you the ability to move forward, take action and drive real change.