It’s all in how you receive.
Let’s say someone gives you a bouquet of flowers. You have a choice about how you will receive them. You could say, “Flowers, huh? What’s HE been up to?” Or, you could say, “Carnations? He only sprung for carnations? Cheapskate.” You might say, “He knows I hate Peruvian lilies — what’s he trying to tell me?” Or, you could merely accept the bouquet and say, “Thank you.”
It’s all in how you decide to receive a gift.
And that’s true whether you’re receiving a tangible gift, like we do here at Christmastime, or accepting your own inherent gifts. I am often amazed at the number of clients who can wax rhapsodic about their weaknesses and shortcomings, but when I task them with inventorying their strengths, they freeze up.
Perhaps we’ve been socialized away from “tooting our own horn” to the degree that we forget we’ve actually got a horn anyway. It does feel awkward to say, “You know, I am really good at (fill in the blank).” Try it. “I am really good at (insert your strength here).” Was that easy or hard? Did you struggle to find something to fill in the blank?
Performance reviews often focus on that which needs improvement (your weaknesses) without so much as a nod to what you’re consistently doing really well. Focusing on the negative puts people in a defensive, one-down position. What a shift it would be if corporations acknowledged employee strengths and let folks play to them!
So, how do you identify your strengths? Glad you asked.
1) What tasks are you often asked to do in your workplace, home or volunteer activities? Organize the Christmas party? Entertain clients? Write a business plan? Train the new guy? Serve on a committee?
2) What are you doing when you lose track of time? Reading actuarial tables? Talking with clients? Walking outside? Writing? Preparing meals? Thinking? Working on a project with others? Being physical?
3) What things have you consistently gravitated to throughout your career? Building teams? Starting businesses? Problem-solving? Big-picture thinking? Coordinating details? Serving others?
Answering these questions may lead you, for example, to understand that you are highly socially intelligent — great at reading other people and excellent at client service — yet you spend a great deal of time completing paperwork. That may lead you to determine you need an assistant to do the paperwork, freeing you up to spend more time with your clients, and increasing your sales revenue.
One of the keys to happiness and satisfaction is knowing what you’re good at and doing as much of it as possible. I often tell clients, “Do more of what you like and delegate the rest!”
When I work with clients to inventory their strengths, we’ll identify one and they will often say, “Well, of course, but anyone can do that!” Really? Everyone can plan and execute a Presidential event for 40,000 people in a week? Everyone can prepare corporate tax returns? Everyone can make a nutritious, tasty meal in 23 minutes? Everyone can manage a group of people to a positive end result? Everyone can raise a million dollars?
I don’t think so.
We tend to minimize that which comes easy to us and focus on that which comes with difficulty. We’ve heard this so many times: “If it’s worth anything, you’ve got to struggle for it.” My perspective is: “If you have to struggle for it, you may be trying to do the wrong thing.”
Accepting and working with your particular gifts shifts your way of thinking from “There’s plenty I’m not good at” to “Look at what I can do!” Which attitude, do you think, leads to greater happiness and satisfaction?