What You Focus on Grows…Why Not Make it Strengths?

My colleagues and I are sometimes surprised when we work with groups in how little people are able to or wish to acknowledge about themselves. When we ask people to list all their strengths, they feel uncomfortable sharing these with others. Case in point when we ask people to practice a new skill, resource gossiping, which in a nutshell, is speaking positively about another person as if they were not present or when they are not present. If you were being gossiped about, we would force you to turn your back to your colleagues and listen to them describe your greatness. That’s right, we force people to listen to people talk about their talents, passions and virtues! We don’t even let people interject if they disagree with a person’s description of a strength or to downplay the extent of it! Imagine the cruelty!

So when this exercise is over, do people boo us out of the room? Quite the contrary. In the space of a few minutes, people begin to say things like:

  • I feel so good!
  • I had no idea how much my colleagues knew about me!
  • Wow, I wish I could do this every day!
  • We need to do this more often in the workplace!
  • I am going to try this at my next department meeting!

That’s a great call to action. What if we did take a few minutes out on a regular basis to tell our colleagues what was great about them? What if we were able to end each week answering affirmatively to the question: did I sufficiently let my colleagues know how much I appreciated and needed them this week?

What you focus on grows. Why not focus on possibility and potential rather than roadblocks and deficits? By focusing on what you are good at, enjoy and feel truly “you” allow you to cultivate your talents more authentically, expediting the trajectory of greatness. Yes, you can make gains by focusing on how you can improve, and we’re not suggesting you should ignore your gut or all feedback from others about what could be improved. After all, improvement is key to living into our potential. However, our experience has told us most often what’s not working is more often not living into who we truly are and our gifts rather than being lacking in something we should have or should be.

“What you value in your life increases in value.” Robin Sharma

Awkward! What not to do when starting a blog (and a few things that worked too)

I’ve been a veteran blogger for four months now, so thought I’d share what I’ve learned about blogging. It won’t be rock science, but might be helpful all the same…

1. Watch some YouTube videos on how to blog

I’m a Gex X…why do I keep forgetting that? I can’t figure out technology sans help. It would have saved a lot of frustration and hours (not to mention a few grey hairs) if I had started by researching how to use this foreign technology. If only I had watched an hour of YouTube videos first (after all, I ended up having to anyway!)

2. Not gotten so caught up in the “shiny” things about blogs

Sure, deciding whether to buy a theme or not to buy a theme is super important in the grand scheme of things, not to mention which colour palette to choose, but probably less so than the content. I think I changed the “look” of my blog about a dozen times in the first two weeks. I am pretty sure no one was more drawn to my blog because of my final selection (in fact, I can tell you from the stats they were definitely not drawn to a blog with only one post and a rapidly changing “look”). And don’t look at my blog with that “I-don’t-know-what-all-the-fuss-was-about-it-looks-pretty-plain-to-me” expression!

3. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No seriously, don’t take yourself too seriously…

Like the colour, I wanted to pick the “perfect” title and caption. Picking your URL and title is important, granted, because it’s hard to change the URL and switching your title can be confusing to followers. However, if I had to do it all over again, I would have thought of something creative, fun and inviting for my title and caption. My blog’s title is kinda serious. It’s also exactly what I want to talk about. So, I guess finding the balance requires time to sit back and think about how to best capture that balance. Unless you’re an uber serious person with an intense topic, how can your blog’s title be both accurate and fun?  Kinda like these:

Image4. Use titles that catch search engine’s attention

When people are doing a Google search, you likely want them to stumble upon your site. If you’re trying to be overly witty or unique, there’s a good chance the only people who will catch onto your blog are those who follow you already (your blog or other social media you use to promote it). Although I don’t really like the “4 Things that didn’t work…” sorta person, I thought I better figure out how to make it work if I was going to invest the time into blogging! No point in having a blog that no ones reads (otherwise I’d just talk to myself and save myself the carpal tunnel!)

 

And more importantly, the things I’d do again…

1. Write a bunch of content when I had time

Life gets busy and some weeks I barely have time or energy to write. Other times I get really excited about a topic, the writing comes easily and I seem to have more time (such as if the kids and hubby go up north). Keeping draft content ready to publish means you can always have something on the ready to just click “post” and it seems like you’re writing all the time!

2. Invite guest bloggers to share their wisdom

I think other people are way more interesting to learn from, and the wisdom of many is superior to the wisdom of one. I started asking other strengths-based leaders to answer questions that I’d find interesting and guess what? Others found their responses interesting too! Who knew that interesting people would have cool things to say?!

3. Leverage social media to promote every blog post

I get more traffic on days I promote my blog through LinkedIn Groups, Twitter and Facebook than on days I don’t. Don’t believe me? You can see the stats of what people are reading, on what days, and how they accessed your content. Plus, it makes all those people in high school that made fun of you think you’re super smart posting brilliant things all the time! Seriously though, make sense a social media tool would be best supported by another social media tool, so connect them for heaven’s sake!

 

Best advice (not that you asked) is have fun with it! It’s an extension of you – your interests, life experience and strengths, so be true to yourself and let it reflect the real you! The more you can do these things, the longer you’ll stay with your blog!

 

 

 

 

5 Great Strengths Tools and Exercises: Exploring your own and others’ strengths with intention

From self-reflection to teambuilding, here is a good list of strengths-based exercises and tools that will help you and your colleagues explore your own and each others’ strengths more deeply so you can get onto the business of honouring and leveraging them everyday! To learn more, just click on the link for a full explanation of the tool and how to use it. Enjoy!

  1. A Plate of Strengths
  2. Scaling in Action
  3. Resource Gossiping
  4. VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire
  5. Strengths Map

Don’t forget to comment what strength exercise you liked the best and any tips for us!

Exercise: Strengths Map

Do you know what your colleagues’ top strengths are? Do they know yours? If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, they try some ideas below!

Steps:

  1. Each person completes the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire
  2. Everyone shares their top 3 or so strengths. Perhaps even create a “Strengths Map”. Reflect on similarities and differences (see sample strengths map below):
Gloria Jenny Steve Ben
Bravery X X
Honesty X
Fairness X X
Perseverance X X
Humility X X
Spirituality X X X

3. Each person describes what honouring those top strengths looks like for them.

  • What do you need from your colleagues?Image
  • How will your colleagues know when they are honouring it?

Make it visual and fun – don’t just stay in your seats!

4. Describe what not honouring each top strength looks like for you.

  • What doesn’t work? How would someone take each strength for granted?
  • What behaviour would be the opposite of honouring each top strength for you?

5. Combine what people say they need (and what doesn’t work) into group rules based on common themes.

6. Post top strengths and ground rules somewhere you can easily see and access the lists. Reflect on periodically, particularly when going through a tough time as a team.

Related posts:

How Resourceful is Your Gossip?

ImageWe often thing of gossip as a bad thing, and with good reason. Often it’s mean-spirited and hurtful; a passive-aggressive way to bully someone. But does it always have to be?

Not necessarily.

Gossip, without the negativity, is simply speaking about the other person when they are not there. So, theoretically, could it be positive? You bet!

Have you ever told someone how much you admired a friend or colleague when the person of your praise was not present? Have you ever said “oh, I know someone who is good at that, you should call X!” Have you relayed a story about a colleague who impressed you with your spousewhen you got home? I know I have.

My colleagues and I call scenarios like these “resource gossiping”. Not only do it do it, we in fact encourage people to do it and teach them how!

So go ahead. With your best of intentions at heart, talk freely about the great things you see, hear, and think about the greatness all around you, even with the subject is not there to hear it! I bet you will notice the greatness all around you all the more (you have to be on the look out to live the intention to share it!) You may also hear through the grapevine that someone has been talking about your strengths too!

Related post:

Exercise: Scaling in Action

Lots of people use this exercise, Scaling in Action, as an icebreaker or activity during workshops. It’s also great in meetings. I even learned it as an adult education tool (you may know it as “Voting With Your Feet”).Image

The purpose is to have people evaluate where “scale” themselves for each question or statement you make, standing in relation to where they fall on the scale you outline. Just point out the parameters (e.g., “the left side of the room represents a rating of “1” and the right side of the room a “10”, stand in relation to that 1 to 10 rating on how you respond to the statement X”). You can use this exercise for virtually any topic – including of course strengths! Here’s an example:

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely low and 10 being extremely high, to what extent do you feel:

  Current Rating Desired Rating
You know your top strengths
You believe your colleagues know your top strengths
You and your peers are able to contribute their top strengths in the organization
When your organization is in a crisis, leaders are able to leverage their top strengths

You can also have people record their responses on a piece of paper (like how this is outlined above), either reassuring people they can keep their ratings to themselves or asking them to share it as a group. As I say, what’s so cool about this exercise is how flexible it is!

  • How have you used scaling? What worked? What would you do differently?
  • How might you use it in a way you have never tried before?

Related post: