Thursday, June 4, 2009

Anybody Got A Match?

I work with a lot of leaders in various arenas. They are all very different, and yet in one thing they are very much alike. They are alike in that when I began working with them they had a very limited understanding of their natural talents and strengths and how that impacts their leadership.

I am surprised by how little self-awareness these people have. My surprise is not an indictment of these individuals. It is an indictment of our education system, in general, and of our training of leaders, in specific. In his book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, author Tom Rath states,

"At its fundamentally flawed core, the aim of almost any adult learning program is to help us become who we are not...If you're not very empathetic, you get sent to a course designed to infuse empathy into your personality. From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.

How sad. How much time have people wasted, banging their heads against a wall trying to become something they are not? How many people out there are chasing dreams they are not equipped to achieve?

I am not saying that it doesn't take a lot of hard work and energy to become the best you can be. However, when you invest significant time and energy into your natural talents it is like striking a match against a rough surface - it bursts into flame, creating light and energy. Too many people are trying to mix oil and water and wondering why they are so frustrated and drained of all their energy and life and have little to show for it, or have no sense of genuine fulfillment from all that they have been able to achieve.

It's time to figure out who you really are and who were meant to be. What raw materials exist within you? How can you invest significant time and energy into turning those raw materials into a high quality finished product - i.e. strength?

I highly recommend the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment tool (that comes with the book mentioned above) as a way to start. You can get the book at any bookstore or online at Amazon. You read 31 pages and then spend 30-45 minutes taking the online assessment. As soon as you are done you get a great report that clearly lays out your natural talents and then gives you suggestions on how to invest time and energy into them. I use this tool with all of my coaching clients and have seen how beneficial it is when properly applied.

Anybody got a match? Seize the day!

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