Peak performance cannot be achieved without getting intimate with your strengths, nurturing those strengths, and using your strengths wisely and strategically aligned with your goals.
Self-knowledge is essential. Do you know your strengths? Do you spend time considering how to best use your strengths? As highlighted in previous blogs, no one will manage your career if you don’t. If you truly want to develop personal passion for your work or re-ignite your passion during mid-career malaise or as you return to work after cancer or other critical illness, ask yourself four questions:
- What are my strengths?
- How do I show up as my best?
- How do I learn best?
- What do I need in order to utilize my strengths and my "bests" to learn, grow, and continuously improve?
In the work coaching people during mid-career malaise or returning to work after cancer and other setbacks, you would be surprised how many people struggle to define the answers to these questions. The struggle robs their precious mental and emotional energy and sabotages their intentions and efforts. Working with a coach can help you learn more about yourself at any stage in your life or career.
I recommend you spend your precious energy on nurturing and developing strengths in lieu of focusing on weaknesses. Some weaknesses are temporary such as brain-fog after cancer treatment. As much as we work on the weakness, we are better to acknowledge and accept this as a temporary limitation and focus on what strengths will sustain us during this time of recovery in all senses of the word.
- How do you perform and show up as your best?
- Are you a reader, a listener, a writer, a speaker, an intuitive?
- Some people work well in a team environment, while others excel when given space to work solo.
- Some learn by doing, while others process information by hearing themselves talk or during deep reflection.
Strengths of Character
Taking this concept deeper, what are your strengths of character? Are you tenacious, diligent, determined, fearless, calm and collect, approachable? There are many valuable strengths that you have developed over your lifetime that you may have forgotten or have not acknowledged for some time.
The key to knowing yourself well can also be in the feedback you receive from peers, formal assessments, or your coach. Feedback can be a current snapshot in time or from the past. Take a moment to remember the strengths that were noticed by others such as favourite teachers, mentors, friends, and family members. You might uncover a strength that you had tucked away; a strength that may serve you well as you work toward peak performance.
I was fortunate to have the same amazing teacher for three years of grade school (grades 4, 5, and 6). He was amazing because he noticed and openly acknowledged his students' strengths. When I became frustrated with a particular task or concept, he would remind me that I am resourceful and tenacious and that I would succeed. His words would later become my mantra for my return-to-work experience.
In an Ideal World - Passion Rules
In an ideal world, we’d all be working with passion in jobs that bring out our strengths and talents to achieve the greatest good in organizations and the world. But that doesn’t always happen the way we envision. However, our latent strengths and talents may be just what we need to re-engage and reignite our passion.
An article in Harvard Business Review by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown (August 30, 2010), “Shape Serendipity, Understand Stress, Reignite Passion” explains that they focus on passion in work for two reasons.
- Their research suggested that passion is key to achieving sustained extreme performance improvement.
- Their 2009 Shift Index survey showed that passion levels in the workforce were very low (generally below 20% of workers give indications of passion for their work).
Sustained performance improvement fueled by passion is key to attaining peak performance at any level. A sense that we are on a path of continuous improvement (the right path) is essential to relieving the stress that we all feel in our work lives.
Ultimately, it’s up to each of us to be where we can develop and express our strengths if we truly want to make a difference. Be aware of this when you work with your coach. Before you conclude that you need to redesign your career, change fields, or pursue reduced workloads, work on finding or reigniting your personal passion and discover work that is truly meaningful and satisfying.
Finding a Champion.... An Accredited Coach
If you are currently reassessing your work and life at midlife, mid-career, or after an illness or other setback, I strongly recommend finding an accredited coach who specializes in this transition and who will be your champion. Look for a coach who is certified in Emotional Intelligence. You can find a coach on the International Coach Federation (ICF) website - "Need Coaching?". Or, contact me. I would love to assist you in finding the best coach for you. I refer only to world-class coaches who are my trusted colleagues.
If you are returning to work during or after cancer treatment, check out THRIVE, the unique coaching program for rejuvenating peak performance for a positive and successful return-to-work experience.
- The Wisdom of Mid-career Coaching
- The Search for What's Next and Who Am I Now?
- Mid-Career U-Curve - Purpose-Driven Disruption
- Rinse and Repeat - A Midlife Crisis Narrative
- Mid-Career Challenges - Crisis or Opportunity?
- Set a New Direction: Re-evaluate Your Values and Update Your Identity to Re-Ignite Your Mojo