My career coaching clients often come to see me because when it comes to work, they are either unsure of what’s next or don’t know how to make the next thing happen. And a voice in their head is saying “you can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t”.
Those minds of ours – they can be cheeky, always looking for evidence to prove what it thinks is true. If your voice is saying “I can’t, I won’t, I shouldn’t” then your mind is looking for evidence to prove that all to be true. Scientists call this confirmation bias.
So, I ask my clients to play a trick on that cheeky mind and to search for new evidence. They write down 5 things that they are AWESOME at, particularly at work (in a job interview they are called strengths). And each day over the next week, their homework is to find two pieces of evidence for each strength.
By the end of the week they will have 70 pieces of evidence to support their awesomeness- which may just trick that cheeky mind into flipping the script to “I can, I will, I should”. High fives all around.
But the exercise doesn’t end there. We also need to pause to reflect on each of these strengths. You see, there is a big difference between the things you are awesome at (your strengths) and things that put you in flow.
You know flow right – when you are working on something and you are so completely absorbed, that time floats away. Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi popularized the term in the 90s. In flow, you are both feeling and performing at your peak.
And if we confuse our strengths with the things that put us in flow, well then we just might find ourselves wondering why we are feeling drained – even when we have been leveraging our strengths all week. YUCK.
So, in week 2 of the strengths exercise, I ask my clients to observe and record moments/tasks/projects where they find themselves in flow, and observe and record moments/task/projects that leave them feeling drained. And then we ask, “are most of my moments/tasks/projects in flow or draining?”, and “which strengths put me in flow and which strengths drain me?”.
And here is the big one: “how can I spend more of my day in flow, utilizing my strengths”.
BOOM! Now we are getting somewhere BIG! Why not give this strengths exercise a go? And if you get stuck, you know who to call, your favorite people whisperer.
Until next week,