Use your Strengths and Achieve ‘Flow’

Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best everyday?

Last week, we held a workshop that brought together leaders and tech professionals to introduce the concepts behind a strengths-based approach to personal development and managing teams. We discussed the benefit of knowing your natural talents, and using them to get the best from ourselves and our teams. We were fortunate to have Omer Aziz, an expert in the field, lead us through this approach. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Find your strengths
First off, do you know what your top strengths are? We’re big fans of the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment as a useful tool to discover your top 5 strengths. These are core to who you are and likely won’t change much over time.

Focus on strengths vs. improving weaknesses
Should you fix your faults, or tune-up your talents? The data is undisputable. Instead of dwelling on the things we’re not great at, we can grow more by emphasizing the things we love to do. The light bulbs started going off and several participants said they felt liberated knowing they should be doing more in their areas of strength and passion, and not stress about their weaknesses.

Getting to ‘Flow”
When was the last time you felt completely ‘in the zone’ at work, where you lost track of time, forgot to eat lunch, and accomplished unbelievable things? This state of being completely absorbed and at your peak performance is referred to as “flow” (coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). What’s the key to working in a state of flow? Use your talents and work towards a goal. The trick is figuring out how we can trigger this more often.

Using Strengths = Positive Emotions = Better Performance
When we are able to use our strengths we are happier and we get better results. When we enable our teams to unleash their strengths, their engagement increases and productivity soars. It’s a simple correlation, but the impact is huge!

Is there a dark side to strengths?
This was a fascinating revelation for everyone. Every strength has what’s called a “shadow side”, a way it can manifest and be perceived negatively by others. For example, if you have the strength Command you naturally take control and make decisions. This is an incredible talent for a leader but you’re likely seen as intimidating. In creative discussions, your team might shut down and let you take over unless you make efforts to promote a safe collaborative environment.

Food for thought
Omer left us all with a challenge, and we’ll extend that to you. Try to keep track of your ‘best moments’ every week. Write them down. You’ll notice patterns, and before long you’ll be more in tune with what you love doing. Now, go do more of that and watch what happens.