Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Best You Can Deliver

I'm looking forward to January's release of the latest book on strengths from The Gallup Organization, titled Strengths Based Leadership.

Gallup developed the impactful StrengthsFinder tool a number of years ago after decades of research into why people and companies are successful, and books such as Now, Discover Your Strengths and StrengthsFinder 2.0 have unpacked some key strategies on how to develop talents into strengths while honing skills and applying insights from various experiences. Marcus Buckingham, a Gallup alum who co-authored Now, Discover, has continued to contribute to the strengths revolution with books such as Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

For the past three years, as a strengths coach certified by Gallup, I have sought to apply the tools and insights from the StrengthsFinder material with coaching clients I have served. But as I connect with leaders at all levels, I continue to be surprised by how little investment some still place into truly identifying and leveraging their strengths.

Too often individuals just sort of "fall into" careers and long to be doing something else because they have strayed from their key spheres of talent and passion. I not only see this in the business world, but in church ministries as well where people volunteer (or are volun-told) to take on a particular task that is painfully outside of what Scripture calls their spiritual gifts.

Circumstances do call for us to sometimes tackle projects, solve problems or invest in relationships that stretch us beyond our focal points of talent. However, intentional living and working can make these the exception rather than the rule; if we're always struggling to succeed, we are likely in the wrong fit. Even in the right job staying true to strengths can be swimming against the tide, for the intensity around productivity and immediate results that infects nearly all organizations today makes it very tempting to do what is expedient rather than what is best. Fear trumps focus.

I have found I can better navigate complexity and myriads of choices and demands by keeping things simple, attempting to look at all opportunities through the grid of my core strengths and determine how I can leverage them in order to meet any challenge. I've grown more savvy and content with what I can say yes to as well as opportunities I should not pursue.

To know and apply one's strengths is to not be all things to all people, but to offer the best things only you can deliver to those who need your unique contributions the most.


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