UNLEASH YOUR STRENGTHS FOR SUCCESS

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Are you projecting the best “You”?

Success lies in our ability to discover your strengths and to organize your life so that these strengths can be applied to achieve your goals. If we manage our weaknesses, instead of focusing on them, we will be able to build up our strengths.

STRENGTHS or TALENTS?

Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour that can be productively applied. A strength is the ability to consistently provide perfect or near-perfect performance in a specific activity.  Talents, knowledge, and skills, together with the time spent (i.e., investment) practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base — combine to create your strengths.

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Your talents provide the multiplier effect that transforms your investment/effort into a strength. It is the power that propels you towards success.

 

A STRENGTH-BASED APPROACH

Hard work does not equal strength. You have several times more potential for growth when you invest energy in developing your strengths instead of correcting your weaknesses/deficiencies. For those unable to focus their energy on what they do best – i.e. their strengths- the cost to them, their career or their business can be staggering!

  • A strength based approach improves your confidence, direction, hope and interaction with your individual and business environment.
  • A strength-based approach will increase your ability to innovate and generate creative ideas that add value.

 

FOUR PRACTICAL STEPS TO UNLEASHING YOUR STRENGTHS

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Peter Drucker asserts that most people think they know what they are good at but are usually wrong. Our natural talents and passions are the things we truly love to do – they are the purpose for which we exist. They define our unique brand and make us stand out from the crowd.

I once heard the tale of the “Greatest General” of all time. A certain man had died and went to heaven. Upon getting to heaven he asked the angel a question which had baffled him all his life. He asked: “I have been interested in military history my whole life. Who is the greatest general of all time?” The angel answered – “That man over there.” He replied, “Oh you must be mistaken, I knew that man on earth. He was a common labourer.” “That’s right”, answered the angel, “he would have been the greatest general of all time – if only he had been a general.”

You owe it to yourself – unleash your strengths and be the greatest YOU that you are meant to be.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

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Be happy… Not because everything is good, but because you can see the good side of everything” -Author Unknown

The world around us is chaotic. Life and work is moving fast and can often bring stress and undue pressure even for the most composed and organised ones among us. Many think that the harder they work the more successful they will become and hence the happier their lives will be. While there is a direct correlation between success and happiness, we all know that success does not always bring happiness. The question is: does happiness increase your chances of success?

Most people I come across are generally happy and positive but not enough people pursue happiness. Research has shown that people are more successful when they are happy and positive. This is because happy people are more likely to behave in ways that lead to success. If therefore, our ability to achieve success somewhat depends on happiness, will we be more inclined to pursue it? Shawn Achor offers us the Happiness Advantage. In his book, he describes 7 principles of positive psychology that may help us perform better and achieve success:

  • The positivity factor – This encompasses what Achor calls the Happiness Advantage. A positive brain does have a biological advantage because happiness is characterised by emotions of joy, hope, inspiration, serenity, pride, love etc. all of which fuel creativity. The happier we are, the more motivated we are to do the things that help us achieve our goals and consequently make us successful.

ACTION: Figure out the things that bring you joy, hope, inspiration, serenity, love, pride and surround yourself with those things.

  • How do you see the world?-  A glass is either half full or half empty. It just depends on your outlook – positive or negative. We are able to significantly change our outcomes based on our perception of the situations we find ourselves in. I was once told the tale of a man who tried to escape captivity. He had scaled nine fences in a bid to reach freedom. After the ninth fence he managed to convince himself there was no way out and proceeded to scale the nine fences back to captivity. Well it turns out there was only one more fence he needed to scale to reach his freedom!

ACTION: Change your mind-set. You can empower yourself to experience life differently by changing the meaning that you give to things and situations you find yourself in.

  • Train Your Brain To See The Opportunities – Our brains are programmed to act in patterns that we create. If we respond to an event, time and time again in a certain way, then we create a pattern for our brains to follow. The “tetris effect” is the notion that you can retrain your brain to spot patterns of possibility instead of impossibility and to seek out opportunity instead of weaknesses.

ACTION: Consciously look for opportunities in everyday life. Do it consistently for one month and your brain will naturally adjust itself.

  • Find A Way Out – Life happens. Sometimes negative things will happen or failure happens. What matters is how we respond. My pastor always says failure is an event not the definition of a person. You must find a way out of the situation and move forward. The only way to deal with a negative event or failure is to confront it and deal with it.

ACTION: “Falling up” is a strategy to get yourself up when things go wrong. Find a path that not only takes you out of the challenge, but makes you stronger.

  • Zero In –   Some people love a challenge, others don’t. What is important is that we know what our capacity is. When life becomes chaotic or challenging the tendency for many people is that they become flustered, confused and likely to act irrationally.

ACTION: Focus on smaller goals or targets that you can manage and gradually increase your capacity as you get comfortable.

  • The 20 Second Rule – Deciding to become a happier person requires you to commit to seeing and doing things differently but that in itself presents a challenge – the willpower to commit! When given a choice we are more likely to choose activities that are comfortable over those that challenge or stretch us. This is because good habits take effort and that’s where the problem lies. We often focus on the effort required to complete a task and immediately become overwhelmed by it. Achor offers a cracking solution which is to focus only on the initial action to start the activity and make it really easy to do. Achor states that   – “In physics, activation energy is the initial spark needed to catalyse a reaction. The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit.”  For example if you have committed to eating healthily and you find that you don’t because you have to clean and peel fresh vegetables after a long day at work then you may want to opt for frozen or prepared vegetables which takes little or no time (20 seconds) to get out of the fridge and start cooking. That way you eliminate the challenge of preparation! The opposite is also true for eliminating bad habits. Make it hard enough to access the habit and your brain naturally drops the habit.

ACTION: Decrease the activation energy you need to do positive habits and increase it for negative habits.

  • Social Investment – Networks are valuable. The value of social capital is an indication of the size and health of your social network. Your social network are the people and relationships you rely on and are often key in helping you navigate challenging times and situations.

ACTION: Invest time and energy in the people that make up your social network. 

“Happiness is not the lack of troubles, it’s the capacity to deal with them” – Author Unkonwn

Getting Your Message Across

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Do you often struggle to get your point across to an audience or group? I’ve certainly been in situations where I know exactly what message I need to communicate, but somehow my message gets lost in translation. I wondered how certain people manage to simply and effortlessly get their message across to an audience while the rest of us struggle. It almost seems that these people are born with an innate ability to captivate or mesmerise. These people are said to have gravitas and a commanding presence. But can this ability be developed or learned? Thankfully – Yes! I recently read Roger Ailes book You are the message: Getting What You Want By Being Who You Are and was amazed at how in four simple steps, you can transform the way you communicate to become a great communicator, capable of captivating and mesmerising your listening audience. Ailes suggests:

  1. Be Prepared – A great communicator is usually one who understands their subject matter. You cannot communicate what you don’t know so invest time and effort in developing your knowledge. It also pays to extend your knowledge beyond the immediate scope as this gives you an edge. Knowledge is power, preparation inspires confidence.
  2.  Be Comfortable – Getting comfortable when standing before an audience sounds easier said than done.  By finding simple ways to be light-hearted and humorous, you can ease any tensions that may have. Don’t take yourself too seriously and loose the anxiety. When you’re comfortable your audience will be too. I found that just by sharing my personal experiences helps to set people at ease.
  3. Be Committed – This is by far my favourite one. Its all about your convictions and your purpose. Be clear on what you are talking about and why its important. Convey what the greater good is. Let your passion for the subject shine through anew others will relate to it or buy into it.
  4. Be Interesting – This is a difficult one! At least for most people myself included. The good news is you can easily be interesting just by being your authentic self. It is often those unique things about us that make us interesting. Don’t be afraid to let the real you come out to play.