Saturday, 26 May 2012

strength training

I wrote a post for our blog at work the other week about playing to your strengths.  It's such an old, well established concept, but how many of us actually do it? In our work or in other areas of our life?

The thing is, as human beings we are, it's true, wired to focus on what we might see as negatives, or weaknesses rather than to focus on all the good stuff, which is a bit of a pain in the proverbials really. But we can rewire the way we think. Neuroplasticity says so and positive and organisational psychology show that if we do, our overall happiness, our productivity, efficiency etc increases. Thank goodness for that, because it really does get quite tiring and depressing going on about how rubbish we are at stuff all the time.

The other thing our funny little minds are quite good at is making stuff up. There will be things you think you're no good at just because that's what you've always told yourself (maybe because either you tried it once or somebody else told you you were no good at it and you just believed them). These are known as limiting beliefs and they hold you back. Since doing my NLP course I've become more finely tuned to the amount of times I notice people saying "I can't..." "I don't think I'll be able to..." and so on. LIMITING BELIEF alert. Oh, and obviously when I do it myself, but think that's a whole other post! Language and what we tell ourselves is SO important. Our silly subconscious doesn't know the difference between something that's true and something you've invented in your own mind so the more you go around talking about how rubbish you are at something, the more it will just become true.  Next time you catch yourself talking about something you can't do, just check if it really is true or just something you've always told yourself and then go back and correct what you said if needs be.

On the other hand, you might just be right, you might just be rubbish at it after all. And that's ok too.

I read a post on Moodscope the other day that said something along the lines of "do you think Usain Bolt lies awake at night worrying about not being any good at trampoline?" which I loved!

There really is nothing wrong with having weaknesses, in fact it's healthy to recognise what they are, admit we have them and ask for help and support in those areas. I'm not massively good with admin, for example. Of any description. But I know it needs doing and I hate for it not to be done. I used to get annoyed with myself over this and tie myself up in knots putting it off, doing it all slapdash just so it was done and so on. Then I just thought, hang on, this isn't a strength of mine, but it is a strength of other people's. Why waste time getting annoyed with myself and trying to force myself to get better at this when I could be doing things I am good at, and let somebody else who excels in this area help me and get it done quicker and better than I could. Phew.  I read an article about how Mark Zuckerberg, an introvert, made sure to partner up with an extrovert who could go off gallivanting around schmoozing and signing deals so he could stay safely holed up in his office focussing on what he did best. Perfect.

So it is fine to not be good at everything. Just accept it, get over it and get on with what you ARE good at. It is much more motivating. That's the point of teamwork...whether it be at work or in other relationships and situations...everybody brings different skills and strengths to the party so why not let everybody stick to those individual strengths. Much more efficient, effective, productive and fun.

Do you know what your strengths are? Really? I made a list of mine, it was quite interesting and took quite a while and lots of head scratching and crossing out. But it's brilliant now to be able to recognise what they are. The advice is that once you know your strengths, to make sure that you are then practising them all the time, honing them and putting them into good use for both yourself and everybody around you as much as possible. Which makes a lot of sense, it's not rocket science is it!? we just need to remember to do it!  If you're a manager of people, there's a big lesson in team management here too.

Which is obviously, to find people better at trampoline than you!

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