That’s a semi-strange title, but it really does have more meaning that you might think. I recently was turned on to the amazing work of Marcus Buckingham, and I absolutely love what he advocates. Wait, you’ve never heard of him?
His big “thing” is pushing people to follow their strengths. You know those people who tell you to work on your weaknesses? He says to ignore them if possible and get even better at your strengths.
Here’s a little snippet from “The Truth About You” that I’m reading right now.
When it comes to your job, the “what” always trumps the “why” and the “who.”
People tend to take a job because of the “why”–“I’m joining the Peace Corps to help the disadvantaged” or “I’m going into politics to make a difference” or “I’m going into sales to make a lot of money.”
They stay in a job because of the relationships they build, because of “who” they work with–“I like my colleagues. They know me. They expect things of me. I don’t want to let them down.”
But then, as time drags on, they eventually become aware that “what” they are actually doing isn’t what they want to be doing…. So they quit.
Sounds like the stone cold truth to me, and to be honest, it hits a little close to home as well. I joined my organization based on the “why.” I have stayed because of the “who.” And if I can’t get enough of the “what” that I need to stay sane and engaged, I’ll move along. It sounds like the life of a mercenary, but there are too many years ahead (even for a forty year old, there are still at least twenty years of work ahead if he/she wants it!) to stay in a job that isn’t satisfying mentally and emotionally.
I’d like you to try a little experiment. I want you to see how much time at work you can devote to your strengths, and then delegate, drop, or minimize any weaknesses.
So, what are strengths and weaknesses?
Buckingham says that your strengths aren’t necessarily what you’re good at. Why? Well, just because I’m good at folding laundry doesn’t make it a strength, right? Strengths should make you feel strong when you do them. You should finish the activity energized.
On the flip side, weaknesses make you feel weak. If you finish speaking in public and want to pass out on the ground, then that’s probably going to count as a weakness.
With that in mind, why not give it a shot? Try to spend more time working on things that make you feel stronger. It might not be a big change for you, but what if you were able to squeak out an extra thirty minutes per week doing things that revitalize and inspire you? Would that make a dramatic impact on your outlook on work? I bet it would.
Give it a shot. Let me know what you think!