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What Makes You Feel Strong?

In life we have a limited amount of time. Are you maximizing your time in a way that calls forth your best self?

In the last week or so I have had the fortune to attend celebrations honoring friends for their lifetime achievements and professional accomplishments. I have also addressed a handful of sympathy cards and attended funeral services of friends and family members who have lost loved ones. These occassions have served as a reminder that we are surrounded by talented, generous and brilliant people and that we all have the opportunity to be our best selves.

Yet the statistics astoundingly purport the opposite. According to a Gallup survey only two out of ten people avail themselves with work they love. Only twenty percent of people in the workforce get to play to their strengths and to experience success earned by leveraging their unique talents and strengths. Even worse, the needle isn't moving.

There's a litany of excuses, justifications and reasons why it is that way. Many have mortgages, careers, families, community obligations, etc. We all know that life gets really heavy, really quickly. Before we know it, we are burned out, trapped and drifting in whatever direction "they" dictate. It's easier to settle.

The commom denominator among those we honor and celebrate is that they do work they love. They have been deliberate, responsible and intelligent in their choices and have figured out how to play to their strengths.

Wait a minute. Stop. Take a breath. Take inventory of the activities that make you feel strong, says Marcus Buckingham, author of "Stand Out". His work and that of Gallup, Inc. is devoted to having people recognize what they do well and what makes them feel strong. When you feel strong, compelled, and powerful; when you feel as though time is speeding by; as though you could do an activity over and over and never get tired of it, is when you have discovered a true strength. We all do many things well, but that doesn't mean it is a strength. If your energy is depleted or drained after an activity or you find yourself procrastinating, chances are it is not a strength, even though you do it well. Pay attention to the signs. Take inventory of what you truly enjoy and then begin to shape your life in accordance.

Far too often society demands that we focus on our weaknesses; we put more energy into fearing our weak areas, rather than honoring the areas in which we excel.

Consider using your strengths to mitigate your weaknesses.

For example, I don't like large group networking; in fact, I dread it. I am good at it but, I detest it. You know...walking into a room filled with loud noise, scrambling to break into a conversation, engaging in small talk, figuring out how to end the conversation without being disruptive and rude and diving into another meaningless conversation with some semblance of interest and curiosity only to dash from that person to the next until the function is over or it's safe to leave. By the time I get to my car I feel completely drained and exhausted.

Conversely, when employing my strengths which, by definition, are those activities that make you feel strong, networking events actually become fun, meaningful and valuable. One of my strengths is interviewing. I especially love to interview people who are passionate, talented, and care deeply about their work. When I single out two or three people at one of these events and interview them with great curiosity, time flies. I've learned a lot and the other person gets to discuss the very thing they love. It's a win, win and we are naturally more attractive, resilient and effective when we are doing work we love. Oh and my energy is at an all time high as I skip out to my car feeling my best.

Take inventory of your unique talents and strengths. Tilt your world by filling it week after week with work that you love, with work that energizes you. It is a noble and generous act; one that will be appreciated and recognized.

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