Consider the Squirrel

If you’re a squirrel, crossing the street on foot could be suicide, and you don’t even know it. Jumping from limb to limb among the tree branches without falling – that’s easy.

Have you noticed yourself not doing your best work? Working makes you tired and anxious. You feel like your days are filled with near misses and its only a matter of time before you, like a stunned squirrel, are lying on the double yellow line, fighting for your last breath.

Before they draw that chalkline around your dead career, there may be a way to put some passion back in your work.

It will require some self-assessment and a firm decision to express your strengths through your work. If you haven’t discovered your strengths yet, go to www.gallupstrengthscenter.com and learn, once and for all, what you do well. The benefit is that most people love to do what makes them feel like an expert. Don’t you want to know where your expertise is?

For a free inventory of character strengths, try www.viacharacter.org.  

Yes, we all have weaknesses. Conventional wisdom suggests we have to focus on overcoming weaknesses. Not true. In reality, there is no rule that says you have to work from weakness. Besides, it doesn’t even make sense. 

Why spend energy doing something whose less than stellar results only make you look and feel incompetent?

If you constantly work on your weakness, when will you make time to shine your strength?

Work from your strengths. Manage your weaknesses. 

Do yourself, your boss and everyone who works with you a great favor and decide to spend at least eighty percent of your time only doing what you can do well. This does not mean you turn down assignments your boss gives you. It would be malpractice for me to suggest that. It does mean that you discuss with your boss the best way to work the assignment from your strengths in order to obtain the best possible outcome. 

Success breeds positive energy. 

And the good news is, you are already surrounded by people who have strengths that easily mitigate your weaknesses. Let them shine, so you can shine. Everyone will be happier.

What’s more, you, yourself have strengths that mitigate your weaknesses.

Once you know what you do well, there is another level of doing what you do well, well. That is the best place to focus your self-development effort. Think of the squirrel jumping from branch to branch and tree to tree. It is a squirrel strength, after all. 

Sadly, once in great while, the squirrel risks missing the landing target. Yet, it does not expend effort worrying about failure. There’s too much ground to cover! 

So, no matter what your strengths are, commit to excellence in performance. Choose your next branch carefully, even if you do it quickly.

One more thing. This is something a squirrel isn’t capable of doing. And it is actually a career-changer. 

Hire a strengths-aware coach until you consistently focus on working from your strengths. You want this to be your reliable, default, long term practice. Speak to your coach once per week, on the phone, Skype, or in person. 

If you think you can’t afford a coach, you may be thinking the wrong thought (you are). Your first investment should be in yourself. 

Many companies provide funds for professional development. Speak to your boss about using some of that money to fund your coaching for a while. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *