Recently I conducted a presentation/workshop for WITI Boston about discrimination in the workplace and what we can do for ourselves to change the dynamic. It went really well, and I was thrilled! I was nervous going into it…”do I have something new to offer”, “will people show up”, you know…the usual self-doubt that creeps in (no matter how confident or well prepared we are.) I had been practicing aloud for weeks (a great speaking tip by the way, practice out loud, no matter how silly you feel.) Confidence is key! If you’re confident and prepared, you can conquer any situation. And I did.
People laughed in all the right places, asked lots of great questions, and we had a lively and vibrant discussion. Afterwards, one of the women from the local WITI committee came up to me and said that she has been immersed in personal development for a long time and didn’t expect to learn anything new, but was surprised that she had. What was this new idea, this revelation that she had? That if we focus on our strengths, rather than our perceived weaknesses, our “areas for improvement”, we can be more successful and happier in our lives. I was really surprised that this was a new concept for her and it made me wonder if it was now for others too. I’m guessing it is, as I said, she’s been doing personal development work for a long time. This notion compelled me to share this with you all!
A strengths-based approach to life and work is something that I firmly believe in. But don’t take my word for it. The VIA Institute has a ton of data on their website that shows in study after study, research after research, strengths, specifically character strengths, play a significant role in happiness, success, life balance, you name it. Without getting too deep into the weeds (I could go on for hours!), there are 24 universal character strengths, that we all have in some measure. Your top strengths are your Signature Strengths. These are the ones that are “most like you”, that you have available to you all the time, without having to reach for them. If you live and work in a way that honors these Signature Strengths, you will have a happier, easier life! Your self-esteem will be higher, and your stress levels will be lower. Here’s a little of the research. I’ll share one study example:
“Strengths-based career counseling was compared with conventional career counseling and both client groups had an increase in daily strengths use but only the former had enhanced self-esteem. At 3-month follow-up, the strengths-based career counseling group had a higher rate of employment (81%) than the conventional career counseling group (60%) (Littman-Ovadia, Lazar-Butbul, & Benjamin, 2014).
I love this work because it means that we all have what we need to succeed and be happy within ourselves already. We may need to learn how to tap into it and take on some new patterns of behavior, but it’s all within reach!
I have to tell you, since I embraced my Signature Strengths my life has changed so much for the better. I am calmer, happier, and am doing work that I love. My top two strengths are kindness and creativity. Prior to doing this work, I had a tendency to perceive my kindness as a weakness (although not the kindness of others, which should have been a clue). I don’t see it as a weakness anymore, in fact, quite the opposite! When I live in a way that honors my kindness, I am abundantly rewarded. As for creativity, I never thought of myself as a creative person. I used to equate creative with artistic. My sisters are both very artistic, me…not so much! Strengths-based work has shown me that creativity is way broader than artistic. In fact, this article, my writing, is an expression of my creativity. Never in a million years did I think I had something to say, let alone that I would derive pleasure from writing and blogging, yet here I am! I write for WITI, Huffington Post, and Thrive Global, as well as my own blog.
Will you join me on this adventure? Schedule a complimentary call with me to discuss how I can help you on your journey.
Go ahead, you might just surprise yourself!