I love watching people when they’re in their “sweet spot.” You know, that zone where they love what they’re doing because it’s a perfect fit for how they’re wired.
Like Jonathan, a high school junior. He’s incredibly bright but not real keen on the traditional ways of learning at school. He’s found a way to muddle through classes, doing what he can to get by with average grades, but he wouldn’t be labeled as “thriving” in his academic environment. Until this year—when he was able to design his own class that catered to his strengths. Jonathan is one of the most creative kids I know; always looking for innovative ways to get things done or coming up with new ideas for things he’s interested in, like music. So, he’s found a way to fulfill credits in science and math by designing and building a guitar perfectly sized for his body. And he’s earned English and music credits by writing a musical that was so welcomed by the music teacher that he’s producing and directing the performance of it next month. He can’t wait to work on these “classes” and will actively tell anyone he encounters about all of the great things he’s learned this year—all because he’s rolling in his “sweet spot.”
This week we’ll take a look at Steps 2 and 3 in the book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work. Author Marcus Buckingham provides readers examples as well as practical activities to help you with each step toward using your strengths to achieve outstanding performance.
Know Your Strengths
Buckingham defines our strengths as the qualities that make us look our best. He reviews with readers four telltale SIGNs to help you recognize your strengths:
- S is for Success: How effective you feel at an activity is a good indicator of a strength. For an activity to be labeled as a strength, you must have some obvious ability in it and your success is a good indicator of your ability.
- I is for Instinct: An unexplainable, repeatable draw to certain activities is a good indicator of a strength. Activities that you instinctively look forward to doing, even if you’re a bit fearful of it, signals that it’s probably a strength for you.
- G is for Growth: An activity that you want to practice, read up on, refine, and perform better indicates growth and is a strength. It’s an activity you have no problem focusing on, and it makes you happy as you do it.
- N is for Needs: An activity that fulfills you so much to the point where you can’t wait to do it again. It doesn’t drain you but instead fills you with satisfaction. It feels authentic, addictive—it’s a strength.
Buckingham provides readers with an exercise in Step 3 for filling out Strength Statement Cards that will help you define and name your strengths.
Use It or Lose It
Well, maybe you won’t really lose it if you don’t use your strengths, but you certainly won’t be performing to your capacity if you don’t put your strengths to work. By establishing routines that have you regularly moving toward and working in your strengths, you’ll maximize their use.
Buckingham uses the FREE strategy for putting your strengths to work, and the book provides a guide for you to recognize each strategy clearly. Here’s a review:
- F is for Focus: Identify how the strength helps you in your current role or job.
- R is for Release: Discover the missed opportunities in your current role.
- E is for Educate: Learn new skills and techniques to build your strength.
- E is for Expand: Now build your job around the strength.
Think On This
How is your current role leveraging your strengths? How can you enhance your performance by working in your areas of strength? How would the culture of your team change if people were serving in their “sweet spot?”