2 key limitations to discovering your strengths…

At work do you have the opportunity to do what you do best, every day? This question was asked by The Gallup Organization to 1.7 million employees in 101 companies and 63 countries. The answer to the question may surprise you. Every day we wake up and hear more about the financial crisis. While there is no question that we are in challenging times, there is an even greater challenge that we face – the “strengths” crisis. The Gallup survey shows just 20% answered they are in a role that uses their strengths. In other words, 80% of workers feel miscast in their role. What’s more, the longer an employee stays with an organization and the higher she climbs the traditional career ladder, the more negative the response to that question. This week’s podcast is with Harvard grad and author Jenifer Fox. M. Ed., who explores these important question in her book Your Childs Strengths – How to discover them, develop them and use them.

Jenifer shared that she wrote the book both for children and professionals. “Most people are working 50+ hours per week. I can’t imagine spending that much time doing something I didn’t love. Most adults I know don’t even think about work in terms of feeling committed, passionate and excited, yet they hope that children will find careers they love rather then jobs that merely serve the purpose of bringing home the bacon.” You may be thinking, now is not the time to figure this out; I am too busy; it is too risky and I am not sure that it is even a realistic expectation in the current job market. Well, surveys show that those who work out of their strengths are less likely to be laid-off and have much higher job satisfaction. If impacted by restructuring, they land sooner due to their outstanding professional reputation. And if you are a parent, what is the message to your children about the role that work will play in their lives? Why is this problem so rampant? Jenifer shares two key reasons for this issue arising in our work lives.

The weakness habit – I have found that many clients, before starting with us in our Career Identity Program, have a much clearer picture of their weakness than their strengths. Jenifer shared, “A majority of the energy in the school system and workplace has emphasized working on your weaknesses”.

The strengths assumption – Your strengths are obvious to those around you. Others assume that you know your own strengths well and that you will self- manage them yourself. I have found, in many cases, we can be blinded by self-bias, both positively and negatively. As Jenifer said, “disabled concepts can create disabled perspectives.”
Unlike many elements associated with the financial crisis, we do have a lot more control over challenges related to strengths. Working out of your strengths equals higher job security and job satisfaction. Can you imagine a company where the entire organization was working out of their strengths? What would it be like to be working for a manager that was truly gifted? To work on a project where each team member was fully engaged? How would it help your own performance at work?

Whether you are 5 or 35, it is never too soon to figure this stuff out. It really is not that complicated to figure out especially with some good tools and some coaching. The real benefit, as Jenifer shared, “meaningful lives are those that are filled with meaningful work, whether you are paid for it or not. The journey to fulfillment begins with introspection, risk taking and, most of all, self-knowledge.”
There is a wonderful saying, “it’s never too late to have a happy career.” Like childhood, we can grow and develop by taking the necessary positive steps.

Stay tuned next week as I share ways to discover, develop and use your strengths. Are you looking to take one step toward understanding your strengths in 2009? Take our Free 15 Minute Career Test or join our complimentary 1 hour TeleWorkshop based upon my book Get the Right job Right Now! Are you looking for more personalized support in the self-discovery process? Book an initial consultation today.

Using my strengths, along the road with you!

Alan