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We can’t be good at everything all the time, but we do have gifts, talents and strengths that are an amazing contribution to our lives, our businesses and our world.

In our culture, we’ve often focused on what we’re not good at and tried to improve in those areas.  But according to a Gallup poll, “People have several times more potential for growth when the invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies…People who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.”

Gallup and author Tom Rath have developed some online profiles, Strengths Finder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership.  If you want to have an in-depth picture of your strengths you might want to pick up a copy of one of those books and take the assessment.

A simpler approach is to just pause and think about what you’re passionate about, what you’ve been called to do in the world, where you thrive in your job and what you spend your time and money on in your personal life. 

Martha Graham says, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost!”

Often when we feel stressed and overwhelmed, it’s because situations and outside events are pulling us away from our talents and causing us to feel ineffective, uncomfortable and unsuccessful.  Think about your role in your organization: what are you best at, where are you the most effective and feeling “in the zone”?  What tasks or responsibilities are not in your strength areas?  Where have you said “yes” to a commitment when you should have gracefully declined?  What “temporary” role did you assume when someone left the organization that you’re still stuck with weeks, months or years later?

What about those you lead?  Are you building teams based on the strengths of each member? If you remember the movie Money Ball, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy turns baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team.  By finding players with a high On Base Percentage but characteristics that lead scouts to dismiss them, Brand assembles a team of undervalued players with far more potential than the A's hamstrung finances would otherwise allow.   

According to Rath and Gallup, The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths of their people.  The stats show that when an organization focuses on the strengths of their employees, the level of engagement is over 70 percent (compared to 9 % when strengths are ignored.)

A great reality check is to make a quick list of the top 10 things you really love to do and are really good at.  Make another list of the 10 top ways you are spending your time.  It can be a real eye opener!

I invite you to choose strengths over stress!  Reclaim your joy, your vitality and your enthusiasm.  As Alan Cohen wrote, “Every choice before you represents the universe inviting you to remember who you are and what you want.”


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