Has there been a time in your life when you have been asked to do something that you were really good at? I mean smoking good. You said yes, but inside you were screaming no.
But you tamped it down and ignored the impulse. You took on that committee role, you agreed to write that report, you took that job, you stayed at that job – because you were good at it. Even with the accolades, the awards, the cash bonus and the stellar performance reviews, along with the comfort in knowing that you had a decent lifestyle, a nice house and all the trimmings for your kids, it still fell short of being enough. Inside you knew something just wasn’t right. But in a flash the doubt was gone again. And though you buried it deep, you felt weakened and drained in the process.
If you are anything like I was, you kept right at it, because you believed that work and life weren’t supposed to be easy; you just do what you are good at.
It takes a particular kind of energy to do work that you are good at but you dislike or even loathe.
There was a point in my career, several years ago, when I felt I had nothing to lose and I took a test that changed my worldview completely. For the first time in my life, I discovered the critical ingredient that had been missing in my pursuit of happiness and excellence.
Your inherent strengths are a combination of:
What you are great at doing
What you love to do
Sit with that for just a moment.
One night I discovered what that intersection meant for me. I bought Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton and went online to take the Gallop Organization’s web-based assessment tool.
I discovered my signature strength themes:
Arranger: Likes to figure out how all of the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity.
Positivity: Has an enthusiasm that is contagious.
Woo: Loves the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over.
Relator: Enjoys close relationships with others.
Connectedness: Believes that there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.
WOW, when I first read this, it was as though a heavy fog had lifted.
In the past few years Marcus Buckingham has adapted and refined this methodology further (http://www.findastrongerlife.com/), specifically for women, which now provides you with two signature strengths. Having just two signature strengths makes it much easier to keep them foremost in my mind when making decisions.
My two signature strengths (or roles as they are described in the book) are:
1. Creator (Lead Role)
2. Teacher (Supporting Role)
These two signature strengths/roles reflect my utter joy of creating and facilitating workshops and coaching within organizations and with individuals who are struggling the way I once was. It now makes sense why I spend a disproportional amount of my work and personal time learning and why I always seem to be yearning for more.
My strengths guide how I make all my decisions and how I consciously choose to live my life. It’s easy to do this when you are clear. Energy that was once used trying to fit into the system is now freed up to do what moves me and this creates a momentum like nothing else I’ve seen.
Your first step is to discover what YOUR strengths are. I recommend the book Find Your Stronger Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, which will give you access to an online strength assessment at http://www.findastrongerlife.com. To complete the assessment you will need a unique code that you will find at the end of the book.
You can also discover your strengths by simply noticing the times when you feel fully engaged in your life. What activities or situations make you feel energized? Carry around a small notebook or capture this information electronically. After a week, review your notes and see what patterns you notice. Pay attention to the experiences when your body feels light and open. These are often clues that will help you discover your mojo.
Here are a few questions that may help you:
1. I can’t wait until I have time to _______________
2. I completely lose time when I am_______________
3. I feel completely energized when I am ____________________
I’m going to leave you here to do a bit of this work. When you’re done, I’d love it if you posted your strengths in a comment at the bottom of this page.
Next week you will learn what to do once you’ve discovered what your strengths are. This is a discovery that can change your life for the better. Have fun with it. And welcome home.
 This assessment tool works well for men also, in my opinion.