I admit I have been feeling a bit discouraged, overwhelmed, flat, and simply “gggrrr” of late. And judging by recent conversations, it’s not just me feeling this way.
Limited world, limited opportunity for strengths
2020 has brought constant waves of turbulence and fear. Everything has narrowed – our immediate universe (work, social and personal), the scope of our daily activity, our focus on problems, and our conviction that we can do anything about them. As a result, the strengths we use have likely been reduced to those necessary for the task at hand.
Research shows that consistent, balanced use of our full range of character strengths has a huge impact on our resilience and well-being. It improves engagement, productivity, happiness, energy levels and yes, stress levels too. In fact those who actively use their core strengths at work are 18 times more likely to feel like they are flourishing.
As the pandemic and change in working environment has progressed, I have noticed an increase in purely skill-based workload and (self) recognition. The acknowledgement and use of our broader personal character strengths has dropped dramatically, especially when we include both work and social restrictions.
Intentionally and consistently using strengths can quickly bring greater energy and engagement. It is key to both happiness and resilience.
How to understand and leverage your strengths
The good news is that it is simple to put in to practice. Try one of the methods below:
1) Find your core character strengths. Research shows that 2/3 of people don’t know what their core strengths are. Simply becoming aware of strength can be very empowering.
2) Pick one strength you want to use more and for the next week look for a new way to express it every day. (Tip: include the weekends in this – strengths are not just tools for the workplace, they span our whole life)
3) Choose a different strength every day and look for a fresh way to use it. One that hasn’t already become habit
4) Identify a strength you don’t use at all . Is there an activity you could do regularly that actively engages this strength (e.g. coaching kids sport, painting or music, learning something – this can be as easy as listening to podcasts it doesn’t have to be a “hard skill”)
5) Write about how one of your strengths has helped you though a challenging time in the past (for about 10 minutes – long enough to really think about it and let your brain get creative). How could you apply that strength to something you may be struggling with now?
This could mean adding to the activities you already do. However, these additions will bring the sense of confidence, capability and purpose that we fundamentally need to feel calm and happy. Using our strengths sparks joy!
What are your core character strengths? How could you use them more effectively across your daily life?
If you want help identifying your strengths, opportunities for applying them more, or any other fundamental tools for thriving through stress and challenges, drop me a line.
Or use this fantastic, free resource from the VIA INSTITUTE, then let me know if you would like to discuss the results or how to apply them.
Embrace Stress course
Over the years, as an ambitious employee, team focused manager and supportive friend, I developed a deep understanding of the challenges and pressures that we all face not only day to day but also in our long-term health, happiness and career development.