Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Focus on your strengths

A couple of weekends ago I was involved in a coaching workshop.  Before this workshop I had to fill out a Gallup survey to determine my strengths.  The idea behind this is that people who focus on their strengths are 3 times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life.  In the workplace, people who focus on their strengths are more engaged, more productive and happier, and those who are given the opportunities to focus on their strengths every day are 6 times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and to be more productive both individually and in teams.

Oftentimes when we have goal setting meetings we say we want to work on the things that we are weak at and want to improve.  Gallup turns this idea on its head, and instead focuses on developing the strengths that you already have.  Research has identified 34 strengths that exist within everyone, but Gallup defines the "signature strengths" which dominate a person's actions and behaviours.  Once you discover and develop your strengths, this helps you to achieve your full potential.  In addition, knowing and developing the strengths of the people you are working with helps you become a better leader and allows you to maximize the full potential of the team.

Here is one of my strengths and a suggestion for developing it:
Your mind is open and absorbent. You naturally soak up information in the same way that a sponge soaks up water. But just as the primary purpose of the sponge is not to permanently contain what it absorbs, neither should your mind simply store information. Input without output can lead to stagnation. As you gather and absorb information, be aware of the individuals and groups that can most benefit from your knowledge, and be intentional about sharing with them.
I was interested to read this and think it is absolutely true.  I think for years I have felt driven to share the knowledge I have and the continual learning that I am doing about how technology can transform teaching and learning.  This is what led me to blog, to use Twitter and to now be involved in facilitating online courses.  I now realize that one of the reasons why I was so unhappy in a previous school was because this very strength was not valued at all - openly sharing this knowledge was discouraged.  Coming to understand this is one of the keys why I am so happy in my new job.  At ASB we believe in openness and sharing, and we are constantly communicating about what we are doing.  Our R&D Task Force reports are open for everyone to read on the Findings blog - we hope that other schools can learn from us and not have to "reinvent the wheel" themselves.  I think the strength and suggestion for developing it identified by the Gallup survey was extremely accurate and I feel blessed to be working in a place that has allowed me to recognize that this is a strength.  As a result I am now engaged, productive and happy!

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