“On Monday, don’t tell me how much you enjoyed
our time together. Tell me what you’re doing differently.”
This is a quotation from the late Peter Drucker, known as the father of modern management and advisor to corporate executives, government officials, and non-profit leaders. During his later years of life, he invited his proteges to his home to spend the weekend talking about leadership and business. When their time together concluded, he challenged them to put what they discussed into action.
Can you imagine having the privilege of spending a weekend picking the brain of the legendary Peter Drucker? No matter what role you’re currently in – leader, team member, volunteer, all of the above – you’d need to be doing something differently and not just thinking about how much you learned.
It’s not easy to do things differently, even when change is for the good. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, improve a relationship, or create another positive change that sticks, you know what I mean.
Consider your strengths. Are you living into yours? Before you answer, know that about 2/3 of us don’t have a meaningful awareness of our strengths, much less live into these capacities. Still, even those with a strengths awareness often don’t give strengths the attention they deserve. Certainly I’m guilty of that from time to time.
Why Don’t We Give Strengths the Attention They Deserve?
There are many reasons. Too often, we work at improving weaknesses rather than building strengths. From another perspective, we’ve been taught that focusing on strengths is boastful or immodest. Perhaps we dismiss strengths as ordinary rather than extraordinary capacities that can help us feel confident, competent, and unique.
A coaching client’s top four signature strengths are Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Bravery, Honesty, and Love of Learning. She viewed these strengths as ordinary. Everyone has these, she would say.
Through our work together, she stopped thinking casually about her strengths and started using them intentionally. In job interviews, for example, she realized she could express Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence to set a high bar for herself, Bravery and Honesty to offer bold yet authentic examples of who she is and how she contributes at work, and Love of Learning to demonstrate how quickly she learns in areas beyond her expertise. She practiced engaging these same strengths in other ways in different parts of her life.
Lasting Change Through Strengths
Over time, she began to view her strengths as unique and extraordinary. Her confidence grew. She leaned on her strengths more often in her personal and professional lives. Ultimately, she couldn’t imagine what life would be like or what she would be like if these strengths didn’t exist.
I shared the quote about Peter Drucker. As we wrapped up, she eagerly named these positive changes. Most notably, she appreciated and expressed her strengths in more situations and in new ways. My client was not only thinking differently, she was doing things differently. Using a lens of strengths helped lead her to satisfying work and other positive outcomes.
It turns out that we can’t wish or hope our way to better outcomes. We need to do something differently.
What Will You Do Differently in 2019?
No matter where you are on your strengths journey, consider blazing a new trail in 2019. Join us in early 2019 for a one-time-only learning opportunity to soar with your strengths within a like-minded community of strengths enthusiasts. Bring your colleagues, loved ones, or friends. Learn more here.
Until next time,
Jane S. Anderson
Author, 30 Days of Character Strengths: A Guided Practice to Ignite Your Best
President, Strength Based Living