This is a guest blog from Russell Harvey, The Resilience Coach. He has had a 20 year career in Learning, Leadership and Organisational Development and his overall style is influenced by positive psychology and a Strengths-Based approach.
I love his article about resilience and energy.
What energises you?
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself this question? If not, stop for a moment, consider it, then write down your answer. It’s a really beneficial exercise to help you improve performance at work, get greater job satisfaction, and achieve your goals.
Many conversations with managers centre around improvement. These conversations are intended to help us, but they tend to focus on what needs to be improved – our weaknesses. Anyone who has ever had one of these conversations will know how demoralising they can be.
Managers set aside all the great stuff that energises us, and instead focus on the things we need to improve. We hear a lot about where we are failing, and leave these conversations feeling deflated and lacking in confidence. They also tend to be retrospective, and leave little time for looking ahead at future opportunities. It’s hardly conducive to improving performance, despite the intention.
Research from the Corporate Leadership Council demonstrates this perfectly. Their study showed that if conversations focus on weaknesses, performance at work decreases by 27%, but if conversations are centred on strengths, performance can improve by up to 36%. It seems clear then what the best approach is.
I am also a great believer in the Strengthscope approach developed by Dr Paul Brewerton and James Brook. They have developed a helpful tool identifying 24 strengths from the question “What energises you about what you are doing?” Theirs is the only strengths tool that is endorsed by the BPS (British Psychological Society).
The approach also explores further questions including;
- “What are you drawn to,
- what do you find easy,
- what do you look forward to doing? and
- when do you feel like you are in flow?”
I often apply this principle with my clients and pose these questions, and the insights it draws from them can be a powerful way to improve performance, both at work and more widely in their lives too.
The Strengthscope approach puts greater focus on the future, by agreeing 3 or 4 realistic, achievable goals. This gives colleagues clarity of focus, and a target that while stretching and challenging, still feels achievable. Strengthscope call this the ‘3 x 3’ goal-setting approach. Giving people too many goals is a common mistake. This can lead to a lack of focus, and even burnout from trying to do too much too quickly. People put in this situation feel anything but energised.
If you have ever read a popular book called the Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters, you will understand the importance of managing the ‘inner chimp’ – the part of the brain concerned with basic survival and immediate satisfaction. Professor Peters also talks about finding your ‘stone of life’, formed by your beliefs and values. The principle accepts three universal truths;
1. Life is not fair
2. The goal posts move
3. There are no guarantees in life
Accepting these three truths, and identifying your ‘stone of life’ are both key to improving your performance. Your stone of life is formed by the things that are important to you. These are the things that energise you and improve performance.
Examining these principles can help you clarify which tasks you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that energise you, helping to identify what your balance of ‘enjoyment’ is. It helps to assess your whole life and see how much time is spent doing things you enjoy and playing to your strengths.
Of course, we all have to do things we don’t enjoy, that’s just life, but understanding what energises you can give you clarity of focus, leading to a more fulfilled life, and improved career performance.