How to Make Work Suck Less

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When I was a kid, every 6 weeks I was required to present my report card to my dad to review and discuss.  In 5th grade, I came home with a report card that only had A’s and B’s on it. He saw the number of B’s and determined that it was excessive and that I was to be grounded.  My dad was always creative in grounding me.  This time we went to K-Mart where he purchased different colored pocket t-shirts.  He informed me that during the coming 6 weeks, I would strictly be wearing these pocket t-shirts and my hair gel would be taken away.  Needless to say, I can’t wear a pocket t-shirt to this day since it is still associated with punishment.

According to the Gallup Organization, looking at grades this way is not unusual.  Here’s what their studies found:

“We presented parents with this scenario: Say your child returns home with the following grades: an A in English, an A in social studies, a C in biology, and an F in algebra. Which of these grades would you spend the most time discussing with your son or daughter? Seventy-seven percent of parents chose to focus on the F in algebra, only six percent on the A in English, and an even more minuscule number, one percent, on the A in social studies. Obviously, the algebra grade requires some attention because to progress in school and secure a place at a college or university, the child cannot afford to fail a subject.” (emphasis mine)

How would life be different for you and those around you, though, if you looked at maximizing your strengths and managing around your weaknesses?  First, it’s important to recognize that a strength is an activity that you are good at AND fulfills you.  It must meet both of those requirements or else it’s not a strength.  On the other hand, a weakness is an activity that you may or may not be good at, but leaves you drained, bored, or in essence, weak, after completing it.

When a person has their strengths (as defined above) engaged, they find that they have greater energy, are more engaged and are more productive.  A study by Marcus Buckingham shows these results in large corporations.  Strengths becomes even more powerful when a company (hat tip to Rackspace) or organization makes an effort to have everyone play to their strengths together.  If you’re interested in your personal development, Buckingham’s book Go Put Your Strengths to Work can help.  Would you like more details on how this works for you or your company?  Drop me a line, I can help you better understand how applying strengths can raise the performance of you and your team.

As seen on MySA.com

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