Monday, January 26, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Marcus Buckingham Workshop Session 2: Where Are You Now?

A few weeks after we went through the introductory session of Marcus Buckingham's on-line workshop, I finally sat down to go through session 2. Why such a gap right? Schedules, yes, but there was a larger reason to. Fear - fear of finding and discovering something new and different. Fear of change. 

Sometimes it's easier, at least in the near-term, to bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything's fine. That no improvements can or should be made. Change is painful, though it's so necessary in the long-run. Progress requires giving up the familiar and that brings with it a certain amount of anxiety. No time for dallying now - we had to jump in and get on with it. Change is coming so we might as well greet it politely at the front door rather than waiting for it to huff and puff and blow our house down. 

Session 2: Most people believe that when we consider our performance in life that we will become better people if we focus on improving our weaknesses. Marcus has a fundamentally different view. His advice is to build on our strengths and manage around our weaknesses. A meager 12% of people spend the majority of their day playing to their strengths. He's willing to give you from 8am - 11am, 25% of your day to play to things we aren't good at. And then the rest of the day must be spent on strengths.

In our society, we believe that if we study and learn about negatives, we will glean some miraculous insight into the positives. We study disease to learn about health, depression to learn about happiness and joy. There have 40,000 studies done on the topic of depression and only 400 on joy. The equation and our focus on weakness and negativity is sadly and badly tipped in the wrong direction. "You study "bad" and invert it, you don't get "good". You get "not bad." And "not bad" is not good enough. It won't give us energy. It won't make all our hard work worthwhile. And it certainly won't make us happy. 

There are a lot of people out there right now who hate their jobs. Even though they're grateful for the income with all the layoffs going on, they hate what they do. And that's the key. The three questions to ask ourselves when examining our jobs are:

1.) Why is this job important to me?
2.) Who am I going to be working with?
3.) What am I actually going to be doing?

When the "what" goes wrong, it effects the "who" and the "why". So in these times when we may be looking for a new job, the question to ask is the "what" question.  To help answer that, it's best to take a look at what invigorates us and what drains us, and then go for what invigorates us.

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