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Strengths-Based Personal Development

Strengths-Based Personal Development

Chris Brogan: I’m on a kick. I just finished reading Marcus Buckingham’s, NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS, and found that I agreed with their premise that working on your strengths is much more productive than throwing time and effort at changing your weaknesses.

One example given was a school report card. If you have one A, two B’s, one C, and two D’s, parents tend to obsess over the negative grades. (Did you, just now when I mentioned it, think about the D’s differently?). Instead, what would happen if you worked on amping up the good grades?

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Develop Your Talents with Skills and Knowledge

If you accept that there are three building blocks to how you do things- talent, skills, and knowledge- then what this practice teaches you is that talents are what you’re born with while skills and knowledge can be learned and absorbed. It’s not that you can’t work tirelessly to improve your on-board talents, but instead, the book (and the research behind it) suggests that working from your talents and building skills and knowledge that support it is the best approach.

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Buckingham’s book leads you to a website where an online test is administered. (Note: the version 2 of this test comes courtesy of a book by Tom Rath, but it’s all in the family.) The test asks you questions based on years of research and millions of responses, and then maps your answers to a path of your top 5 talents. If you work on your top five talents, and build appropriate skills around these, you’ll find better results than if you work on your weaknesses.

Note: you can only take the test if you buy the book. They add a sealed packet with a special one-use code in it. (Buying this for teams can be done through the website, I discovered.)

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Don’t Ignore Your Weaknesses

Managing around your weakness, hiring to compensate for your weaknesses, and building systems that minimize your weaknesses are all recommendations Buckingham gives for dealing with that part of your life. Knowing thyself is still vital to your personal development. Learn how to put your negatives down the chain from your talents, and then work hard on your talents.

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Is It Right For You?

I’m a sucker for training and discovery and learning. (It said so in my talent results, too!) I believe that the more I learn about things, the more I can develop personal ways to be effective. What separates you, as a Lifehack reader and hacker of life yourself, from some of your more, shall we say, “lean back” colleagues, is that you’re interested in personal development and improvement. For that reason alone, I think it’s worth checking out Buckingham’s premise for yourself.

If you take the test, I’d love to hear your results. It’s interesting stuff. And overall, do you agree with the idea of strengths-based development? Have you an experiences either from your own perspective or as a leader?

Chris Brogan keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com}, where he talks more about these books.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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