by Leslie Galema
My favorite part of American Idol is the first couple of weeks when folks are auditioning for their golden ticket to be “through to Hollywood.” I can’t hide the fact that I enjoy seeing those well-intended American Idol hopefuls make a “joyful noise.” It is both comical and painful to watch as they stand in front of the celebrity judges and sing a tone-deaf rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” Bless their hearts.
I often ask my husband, “Where are these people’s friends and family? Why do they let them go on national television and make total fools of themselves?”
I think that the reality is, we live in a culture where we are told, “You can be anything you want to be in life, all you have to do is put your mind to it.” The truth is, while that makes us all feel warm and fuzzy, it is the farthest thing from reality. Well, kind of.
You may have heard it said it like this: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
This week, we will be reading about another principle of The Happiness Advantage.
Principle #2: The Fulcrum and Lever
Our power to maximize our potential is based on two important things:
- The length of our lever: How much potential power and possibility we believe we have.
- The position of our fulcrum: The mindset with which we generate the power to change.
Last week, we read about exercising our Signature Strengths. We all have things we are naturally good at. The key is being self-aware enough to recognize what they are, and what they are not. When we can pinpoint what skills we have, then that is the position of our lever. We all have skills, and strengthening those skills comes from where we place our fulcrum. The author is not suggesting we can be anything we want to be, he is telling us that we can be anything we want to be, once we understand what we are actually good at.
William Hung, a 2004 American Idol hopeful—who gained fame due to his terrible audition of a Ricky Martin song—may not be a great singer, but he does have a gift in something. He just needed guidance in where his potential was and what his limits were. (Sure, we can all be American Idols in the car or in the shower—give me a hairbrush and a mirror and my favorite Adele song and I sound exactly like her. Wink.)
After High School graduation I went to college and because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, I lasted two years before dropping out. I had never been great at school and felt that I had no hope in college, so I quit. You see, I don’t think that I started college with the mindset that ministry was something I could do. It wasn’t until I had spent some time doing ministry on my own, watched others do ministry, and was affirmed by others that I began believing that I could benefit from getting my degree. Once I had decided that I could, I did! The reason I was able to finish up my degree was because this time around, I adjusted the fulcrum and lever. I recognized my strength and skill, I believed I could achieve my goal, and then I made the adjustments in my life and heart to make it happen.
God has gifted us all in different areas; the key is having the self-awareness to know what they are and then to use them! Recognize your strengths and grow them!
As a leader, we should hope to engage our team with positivity and inspire them by reminding them the meaning behind what they are doing. Earlier in the book, the author writes about Chip Conley, an innovative hotelier who likes to ask his employees:
“Forget your current job title. What would our customers call your job title if they described it by the impact you have on their lives?”
The fastest way to disengage an employee is to tell him his work is meaningful only because of the paycheck. You can have the best job in the world, but if you can’t find meaning in it, you won’t enjoy it. What we expect from people (and from ourselves) manifests itself in the words we use, and those words can have a powerful effect on end results.
In this chapter we are encouraged to ask ourselves the following questions every Monday:
- Do I believe that the intelligence and skills of my employees are not fixed, but can be improved with effort?
- Do I believe that my employees want to make that effort, just as they want to find meaning and fulfillment in their jobs?
- How am I conveying these beliefs in my daily words and actions?