By Tracy Hutton
When I share with people that I’m a professional strengths coach, they usually give me a cursory up and down look and I easily read their bewildered minds as wondering “Really? You don’t look like you’re super ripped. You look sorta mushy.” Of course, they’re too polite to say what’s on their minds, so I always offer an additional distinction, “I’m not like a (flexes arms) strength coach, I’m a strengths coach – emphasis on the plural. By that I mean that I support people in discovering their comparative advantage and how to offer it up in service of others. You know, I help people love their work.” Which is always met with an, “Ohhhhhh,” and then “I could really use some help there.”
I saw a post on Instagram not long ago that said “You don’t hate Mondays. You hate your job.” Love it. The data shows that less than two out of 10 people strongly agree that they have an opportunity to use their strengths at work. And using one’s strengths is highly correlated with performance, proficiency, pleasure, and profitability – all the Ps, people. So how is it possible that the number is so low? Why do so few of us feel like we have an opportunity to offer our best?
You could blame your boss. Most do. You could blame your organizations. Many do. But I think the responsibility is often square on the shoulders of the individual who is vague about what their strengths are and thus has no idea how to offer them.
Do you know what your strengths are? Can you clearly articulate three things that you want to contribute to the world? When I ask rooms of people this question, most eyes cast downwards. A few brave souls raise their hands and always preface their response with “I’m not sure, and I don’t want to brag, but I think I’m maybe kinda sort not bad at X, Y, and Z.”
Of course, when I ask, “Who can tell me about a weakness they have?” – many hands shoot up. People ramble extensively, and with great detail, about their “areas of opportunity”, which weaknesses are NOT by the way – but I’ll save that revelation for the live talk. I’m on a mission to flip this conversation. What holds us back from owning and offering our best? What biases and beliefs are we so beholden to that we’ll suffer silently with the eight out of 10 people who drag their caffeine riddled bodies to work hating on Mondays?
Start Here: A Love and Loath List
Pay attention to how you feel at work and few times a day, stop and capture these moments in two columns. In one column quickly jot down the moments in the day that you felt connected and energized. In the other, keep track of the things that you did that drained you. Do this for one week and you’ll start to see trends. Your work is providing you with a metaphorical crumb trail of your true work - start paying attention.
See you on Monday, November 20 at the Audain Art Museum!