What happens when we move from asking what’s wrong with people to asking what’s right with them?
This is the question psychologist began to ask 20 years ago. It led to the birth of the positive psychology movement.
Positive psychology focuses on what promotes healthy psychological functioning.
Much of the past 20 years of positive psychological research, has focused on the benefits of using our strengths. There is an overwhelming body of research that shows that people perform better and are happier when they use their strengths.
Using your signature strengths is a critical key to your success in all areas of your life.
Strengths combine your talent with increased skill, knowledge, and practice. When you bring that combination to a level of mastery, then you’re operating in your strength.
Identifying your natural talent and interest is only the first step of cultivating your strength. Once you identify your strength, you want to focus as much time and energy as possible in developing it.
Developing your strength allows you to excel in your personal and professional life.
That’s why I spend so much time helping my clients, friends and children to focusing on their strengths.
Focusing on your strength is the easiest and the best pathway to excellence.
So for me, one of my strengths is asking questions.
I have the ability to ask a question that would blow open the conversation. People start thinking about the topic in new and different ways. My questions unpack underlying assumptions. It often causes us to question and clarify our goals.
Now that’s a fabulous strength when used wisely. It serves me well when I’m coaching clients, teaching and in planning and strategizing committee work.
But there are some committees that don’t benefit from my strength. They don’t want to question our assumptions. They don’t want to rethink what we’ve done. The focus of this committee is to execute a pre-established plan. In those committees, my strength of asking questions could be seen as a hindrance.
Thus, I use my knowledge of my strengths to decide how I can add the most value to my organization. I choose to serve on committees that are developing programs that are evaluating a new strategic direction. Those are the kinds of opportunities where my strengths can really add value. I stay away from committees where that that’s not their agenda.
Once you are aware of your strengths, you can position yourself to add maximum value. Using yours strengths wisely will not help you do your work better. And it will allow your company and colleagues to get the most from your presence.
Organizing your work around your strengths helps you to be more productive and to enjoy your work more.
Companies that use a system of strength-based feedback are much more profitable, productive, and do a better job of retaining employees.
Most all companies give some kind of annual review. But when you combine that review with a strength based approach you find that feedback is much more useful and results in increased profit.
Strength-based feedback involves helping employees to identify their strengths. It also includes giving them regular feedback around how they exercise strengths. It also includes suggestions on how they might want to exercise their strengths new in better ways.
Companies that use strength-based feedback are 8.9% more profitable. They are also 12.9 % more productive.
Using your strengths in your in your workplace makes you more productive and helps your company make more money. Now who doesn’t like that?
Research also shows that companies using a strength based approach to feedback have much higher rates of employee retention. Employee turnover is lowered by 15 % , simply by encouraging employees to use their strengths.
Whether you are an employee, manager, or a business owner, there is tremendous value in knowing and using your signature strength.
Helping the other people that you work with know and use their strengths daily will take your company to a level of extraordinary success.
Signature strengths have shown to be helpful in treating depression; even among the populations that are hard to treat. Senior adults battling depression are a particularly difficult population to treat, but have shown great success with strength-based interventions.
In one study, researchers asked senior adults to identify their signature strengths. Then they were asked to use their signature strength in new ways.
The research results showed that those adults were much less depressed and reported feeling much happier as a result of the intervention.
It’s fabulous that we can get these kinds of results without needing to rely on any kind of medication or drugs.
Using your signature strength in new ways is an exercise you can easily do to get yourself out of those waves of depression and help increase your happiness.
We’ve also learned that signature strengths can help improve your physical health.
Research shows that when you can connect your exercise routine to your signature strength, you get much better results.
When trainers design a exercise routine that is tailored to tap into your signature strengths, people are able to stay with the exercise routine longer. Because they stay with their exercise routine longer, they experience better positive changes in their health and well-being.
Signature strengths help people enjoy exercising and make more progress.
Each of us is unique.
There is no such thing as a one size fits all health and wellness package for anyone. Yes, we all need certain kinds of activity on certain kinds of educational experiences. We all need certain kinds of work based experiences.
Finding ways to connect those health, educational, and work experiences to our signature strengths will allow us to get more out of those experiences.
There are two widely used psychological assessments to identify your strengths: Clifton Strengths Finder and Values In Action (VIA) survey.
The Clifton Strengths Finder gives you an assessment of the top 34 strength characteristics.
Many corporations use the Clifton Strengths Finder as one of their formal employee or leadership assessment. There are some colleges and universities who are also incorporating this assessment among their incoming students.
You can buy the book Strengths Finder to get a code for a strengths profile assessment.
Another common strengths assessment is using the Values In Action (VIA) survey.
While the Strengths Finder is focused on identifying the activities that you’re really good at, the VIA focuses on who you are and how you show up in the world. This measures how you how show your core values in life and work.
VIA is one of the few assessments that are culturally universal. The creators of the VIA studied the values promoted in various cultures and created measures to assess those positive values. VIA has 24 signature strengths, which are all positive cultural values.
People who take the VIA survey will receive a ranking of all 24 values. The top five strengths on your VIA assessment are your signature strengths.
Click here for your personal VIA signature strengths assessment. You will be able to take the VIA survey, receive a detailed report of your results and a free 20min consultation. Here was can discuss how to have your signature strengths work better for you.
Here is another resource for a quick and easy way to identify their strengths. Click here for my “Strength Spotting: your guide to expressing your best self”. This guide has over 200 strengths. It includes the strengths from the Clifton Strength Finder, the VIA survey as well as other strengths identified in research literature.
Whichever path you choose; you owe it to yourself to get clear on your strengths.
Once you know your strengths, the best thing you can do for yourself is commit to cultivating those strengths daily.
Your strengths are your key to winning in all areas of your life.
I’m curious to learn about your strengths.
List your strengths below and let me know how they support you in work and life.
Are you drinking poison on a daily basis without even knowing it? Most likely, you are. Negative thoughts limit our potential, drain our energy, and create dis-ease in our physiological and psychological states. Click & Tweet! Like ingesting poison, accepting these thoughts is a silent killer of our well-being. Here I’ve identified types of poisonous thoughts you may be ingesting daily. I’ve also provided you with the antidotes to restore your energy, improve your relationship, and restore your sense of well-being.
Self-limiting beliefs are self-imposed limitations on our actions and goals based on what our beliefs about what is possible. Our beliefs serve as the horizon that frames our understanding of ourselves and our world. We shape our behavior to conform to such beliefs. For example, it was once believed that humans could not run a mile in under 4 minutes. Once Roger Bannister broke that record in 1954, it expanding our thinking about what was humanly possible. Now highly trained athletes commonly run a mile in less than 4 minutes. That is the power of breaking a self-limiting belief.
All of our self-limiting beliefs begin with the phrase “I can’t because….” I can’t do that because I’m not good enough. I can’t do this because people will reject me. I can’t try because I will fail. Once we pronounce that we can’t we have imposed an upper boundary on what is possible and we limit our dreams and behaviors to remain within this narrowly defined limit. Through this thought process we condition ourselves to play small, not to try, and to shrink our desires. Self-limiting beliefs are a silent, but deadly, killer of our passion and potential. Click & Tweet!
Psychological research has documented a pattern of behavior known as the fundamental attribution error. These pattern reveals that we are much more likely to attribute the cause of a person’s behavior to internal factors (character traits), rather than external factors (situational causes). Thus, the person who cuts us off in traffic is doing so because he is rude and selfish, not because he’s just received a call that his son has been taken to the emergency room. The interesting thing about this attribution error is that we do it with everyone, but ourselves. When we are running late, it’s because there was heavy traffic or something unexpected happened; while when others are running late we assume they are just irresponsible.
The fundamental attribution error leads us to see the world as a dangerous place filled with people who are fundamentally unlike us. On an individual level, it produces feelings of isolation and disconnection from others. On a larger level, it undermines group trust and shared identity. Our heightened feelings of fear, stress, isolation, and anxiety are consequences of a daily diet of this particular brand of poison.
Have you ever gotten feedback on your work or performance that was overwhelming positive, but afterwards you exclusively go over the critical component of the feedback? Trust me, you are not alone. Many of us have the deadly habit of fixating on, almost to the exclusion of everything else, the negative events of our life. So when I give a talk that was well-received by most of the audience, I may spend the rest of the day thinking about the one person in the front who sat with her arms crossed and didn’t laugh at any of my jokes. We may frame this to ourselves as a necessary step for “improving”, but this fixation on the negative impedes our development.Whatever we focus on becomes magnified. Click & Tweet! When we fixate on the negative events that happen to us, our perspective of ourselves and our life becomes disproportionately negative. Instead of seeing our strengths as well as our weaknesses, our challenges seem to loom large and our perceptions of our strengths shrink in comparison. Our energy is drained and we begin to see ourselves as incapable, incompetent and unworthy. We may try to act as if that judgement is not true, but the content of our self-limiting beliefs reveals what we truly believe about our power and potential.
The poisonous thoughts that we ingest on a daily basis damage our bodies, emotions, and relationships. However, solving the problem of negative thinking reconnects us to ourselves, our community and provides us with the energy and resources needed to pursue our life goals.
Physics teaches us that two distinct forms of matter can not occupy the same space at the same time. So you can not think poisonous and healthy thoughts at the same time. Rather than focusing on trying not to think poison thoughts, I encourage you to identify a replacement thought that you will begin to think about the moment you notice yourself ingesting a poison thought. Below I identify the antidotes: the specific replacement thoughts designed to counteract the effects of the three brands of poisonous thinking. Each time you observe poisonous thoughts entering your system, administer these antidotes and they will increase your joy, energy, and well-being Click & Tweet! .
Reading stories about people, like Roger Bannister, who have gone beyond what we think of as possible for ourselves challenges the validity of our self-imposed limits and encourages us to reach for more. Self-empowering affirmations also have the power to shatter those false limits and motivate us to take necessary steps toward achieving our goals. These empowering statements affirm our ability to grow beyond our past and achieve above our previous expectations. I encourage you to write down a specific affirmation that reminds you of the tremendous creative potential within you and review that affirmation daily. You can use an affirmation you’ve seen elsewhere or create your own for the specific circumstances of your life. By reciting these self-empowering affirmations on a daily basis, you will expand your vision of yourself and your expectation of what you can achieve.Some sample self-empowering affirmations are:
Gratitude invites us to focus our attention on the positive within ourselves and our world. Since what we focus on becomes magnified, practicing gratitude magnifies our positive emotions and supports an optimistic sense of our future Click & Tweet! . Psychological research reveals that people who practice gratitude regularly report higher rates of happiness, better relationships with others, less stress and better sleep. One way to incorporate gratitude into your life is to keep a gratitude journal. Writing regularly in this journal the things that you are grateful for increases your joy. By focusing your attention on the “small gifts” placed in your day, you solidify the memory and the positive feeling associated with it into your mind.Our thoughts are real things that shape both our internal and external reality Click & Tweet! . While we might not be able to exert full control over every thought that enters our minds, mindfulness allows us to notice and engage our thoughts in a manner that promotes our physical and emotional well-being Click & Tweet! . Once we notice the presence of poison thinking in our minds, we can quickly apply the needed antidote to restore our sense of balance and well-being. Practicing such mindful engagement with our thoughts on a regular basis reprograms our thought patterns. Now that you have the tools to do exactly that, doctor heal thyself!
I’d love to hear which poisonous thoughts are prevalent for you and how you replace them. Please share your insights and successful practices below for others to benefit as well.
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