Have you taken the Strengths Test, yet? I am sure, you are aware of Gallup’s survey, demonstrating just how many people are struggling to understand their strengths. But, a much tougher question looms once you understand your strengths…
How much do you USE your strengths at work or in your life?
The results depressed me enormously, when I first took Gallup test many years ago. I had a rare combination of skills that were somewhat in conflict: off-the-charts “Number Series” skills, plus very high Spatial Visualization. (I am giving you a quick version; it’s more complicated than this.) People with visualization skills have to use them, or be frustrated at work, but visualization skills can be hard to use in many professions.
That assessment process didn’t help me at all (which is why I offer my own version to my clients; go here to find out), and for many years I failed to use my strengths. But, since talking to Regina Rowlison on Visualization for our Radio interview on this Saturday, I reread my notes from that earlier test some 20 years ago: I should be in a group influencing profession… diplomacy, teaching, the teaching side of business…. not aiming high enough… set a goal beyond my lifetime… could do anything if I focused… be an expert in one thing… must involve writing, engage and guide people…
Yes, that sounds like what I am doing today, but it took me a VERY long time to get here. I’d like to save you some time by sharing these observations about using your own strengths in a more powerful way:
Whatever it takes, use your imagination (I may be using the words imagination and visualization synonymously here): When it comes to using your skills in a more powerful manner, other people can only give you so much guidance. I was told that I am no good in research and that I should consider “teaching, advising or helping people.” But, I was already working in the University at the time, engaged in research and teaching, and did not quite understand what more should I be doing. I had a PhD, in Physics though not an engineering degree. Frankly, these lame suggestions made my head spin.
What I should have done was to imagine how and what I should be teaching if not Physics at a College or University – something I finally did some years later when I finally left the University – or providing consulting services to businesses and individuals, which came afterwards, almost by accident.
I did not use my visualization in a nearly powerful enough manner.
When using your imagination, and visualize, accept no limits. Dream of being the Monarch of India or a World Champion of Chess. Picture yourself finding a cure for cancer or discovering the Fountain of Youth. Don’t edit your own future, and don’t lose years of your career to a failure of imagination.
The people who end up with the most income, responsibilities and job satisfaction are those who are willing to take two steps backwards to invest in the long-term viability of their career. They are willing to go back to school, to lose a year of nights and weekends to pick up new skills, or to move across the country for a new opportunity.
It pains me that I myself ignored this advice for too many years. Don’t make the same mistake.
Take the Rocking Chair Test: When considering better ways to use your STRENGTHS at work, imagine yourself near the end of your life, sitting on the porch in a rocking chair. Then ask yourself whether that person will be glad you stayed in the same job or compromised your potential for the lure of a safe and steady income? Ask that older person whether you took a big chance or whether that person is glad you played it safe?
Your answers will not be my answers. Each of us has different needs and aspirations. What’s most important is that you use – really use, in a dynamic and substantive manner – your best Strengths. Anything less is throwing away your potential.
You may want to listen to my discussion with Regina Rowlison on the power of Visualization as a Critical Success Factor for your success. Namaste!