Those of us employed in roles that use our strengths will probably enjoy job satisfaction. High performance is more likely where our natural talents are a comfortable fit with the role we undertake.
Where there is a poor match between strengths and job specification we are likely to struggle with demands and expectations we are unsuited to meet. And, if our skills are not well deployed we will probably experience a sense of frustration and disengagement, as we try to reshape either ourselves or the role for a better match between skills and personality.
Go with the flow
When using strengths you are more likely to experience ‘flow’ – a real sense of energy and engagement where we:
· may lose our sense of time because of becoming engrossed in a task;
· learn new information and approaches;
· achieve high levels of performance;
· are drawn to do things that play to our strengths – even if tired, stressed or disengaged.
Flow is the state reached when we are so immersed in an activity that we cease to notice the passage of time and have deep, effortless involvement. Sports people call this “being in the zone” – it is full involvement in flow, rather than happiness achieved from sensory pleasures that makes for excellence in life. It produces deep, long lasting satisfaction, rather than temporary cheerfulness.
Identifying your strengths and skills and then building on these in your work and personal life provides a lasting source of satisfaction and provides sense of control and the satisfaction of a job well done.
The authority on ‘flow’ is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and this is how he characterises the phenomena:
“IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE SKIING DOWN A SLOPE and your full attention is focused on the movements of your body and your full attention is focused on the movements of your body, the position of the skis, the air whistling past your face, and the snow-shrouded trees running by. There is no room in your awareness for conflicts or contradictions; you know that a distracting thought or emotion might get you buried face down in the snow. The run is so perfect that you want it to last forever.”
Energise for peak performance
Gallup report that people who use their strengths at work are six times more likely to be engaged in their work, and three times happier in general. Additionally, because engagement at work is an inverse predictor of employee turnover, people who use their strengths tend to be more productive while at work.
At 10Eighty we use Strengthscope™ which defines strengths as “underlying qualities that energise us, contribute to our personal growth and lead to peak performance”.
Key to this definition is the issue of ‘energy’: Strengths are not just about competence (i.e. how good you are at something); instead, they relate to what energises you, what fuels you – typically a strength will be something you are good at doing, but the most important aspect is the extent to which it gives you energy”.