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Strengths @ work

Doing what you are good at

Dr Retha van Rensburg November 2017

· Work,Relationships

Are you doing your job because you love it, or out of duty or fear? Most people don't have the luxury of selecting a job because they love or prefer it. However, it does not matter what your daily work consists of (including looking after your kids or studying full time), there is a way that you can take steps to like it better and love it more.

Making use of our strengths emphases on doing more of what we are good at rather than what we are just capable of doing. It makes sense to make the most of what we've got doesn't it?

So why don’t we?


For somewhere in life we have all learned about a SWOT analysis. And for most of us it looks like this:

We have analysed and worked on our weaknesses. And how do you feel when you're working with a weakness? You most likely feel tired, dejected, frustrated, or even fearful. Everything you do looks more difficult and demanding than it should.

Most of us are so used to striving to fix our weaknesses that we don't give our strengths much thought.

This, however, is a mistake.

It is our strengths that present the best chance for growth and development when it comes to our work. You'd feel excited and fulfilled in what you were doing. And you'd sense that you and your work existed in near-perfect harmony.

Sounds wonderful, right?

Well, some of the world's most successful people feel like this a good deal of the time. They've learned their about their strengths, and they've worked to shape their lives and work around those strengths. So, if you want to thrive you also need to leverage your strengths.

A hallmark of strengths is “energy”.

Strengths are those things you are good at and really enjoy doing, something that takes less effort than things in which we don’t excel. Strengths, however, are so more than what we do well. Strengths also energize us, leaving us feeling more confident and satisfied. At some point in our lives, each of us has felt what using a strength can feel like. Those are the moments at work which we were completely absorbed. Moments that we find ourselves looking forward to. However, most people are unable to name their top five strengths.

What the Research Shows

Did you know that people who use their strengths regularly are less likely to experience stress or anxiety? They experience more confidence, are happier, more energetic and creative, as well as satisfied at work. They are also six times more likely to be engaged on the job, according to research by Gallup.

That’s a whole lot of reasons start putting your strengths to work, but where should you start?

How do I find out about my strengths?

If you don’t know what you offer, who will? While our human brain has a built-in negativity bias that makes it easy for us to notice our weaknesses; it isn’t as well prepared when it comes to recognizing our strengths. Unfortunately this means that most of us have no idea what our strengths are, which makes it difficult to use and develop them as we go about our jobs.

Discovering and learning about your strengths is without doubt the right place to start when it comes to enhancing the way you think and go about you work. Fortunately, all of us can do this, and a good way of getting started is to take advantage of an online tool to help you identify your strengths, for example the ten-minute VIA (Values In Action) Survey at www.viacharacter.org. This is one way you can find your strengths and start to focus on them.

This survey was developed by prominent scientists to identify measure and develop what is good in humans. The survey identifies your character strengths. These positive personality traits reveal what is good (moral), practical (valued outcomes) and authentic (existential) about you.

What do I do when I know what my strengths are?

Remember, a strength represents the way your brain is wired to perform at its best. By being more aware of your strengths, how they work for you, and by practicing these particular thoughts, feelings and behaviours, you built up neural pathways through your brain that make it easy, effective and enjoyable to be at work.

Once you’ve taken the free survey, you will receive a report containing a list ranked from your highest to lowest strengths as of this moment.

Now, give it a try

Take your top five strengths (from the strengths test).

Find a way to use at least one of them every day, in a new way.

If "love of learning," is one of the strengths on your list, you relish the chance to increase your knowledge. You can do some extra reading about the latest trends in your business, or learning about people the people you work with by chatting with at least one colleague about what they’re working on and see what you can learn.

Give yourself small challenges related to your strengths.

And then remember to give yourself small rewards (for example name “lunch” as a reward).

Before you rush off

You need to be aware that you can have too little and too much of a good thing. Strengths can contribute to your well-being and performance, but evidence has shown that at high levels, they have negative effects, because they hamper the use of other strengths.

Focusing on character strengths has the potential to broaden your perspective of who you are and what you are capable of

After going through this exercise, you should now have a greater understanding and appreciation for what makes you who you are. You will be more aware of the combination of skills, knowledge and attributes that you possess. Now you can make the most of these strengths to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Resources

  1. Grant, A. M., & Schwartz, B. (2011). Too much of a good thing: The challenge and opportunity of the inverted U. Perspectives on Psychological Science6(1), 61-76.
  2. Linley, A. (2008). Average to A+: Realising Strengths in Yourself and Others. Warwick: CAPP Press.
  3. Linley, A., Willars, J., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). The strengths book. Coventry, United Kingdom: CAPP Press.
  4. Littman-Ovadia, H., Lavy, S., & Boiman-Meshita, M. (2017). When Theory and Research Collide: Examining Correlates of Signature Strengths Use at Work. Journal of Happiness Studies18(2), 527-548.
  5. Sorenson, S. (2014). How employees strengths make your company stronger. Gallup Business Journal.

This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.

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This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.