2020 ushered in unprecedented changes to our work and whole life experience. While we feel some relief from the ravages of the pandemic and political unrest, 2021 is delivering us into a new, though quickly evolving, norm.
Essentially, we live in a work-life filled with shifting expectations and possibilities from changing work from home policies to stress and burnout to decisions about significant career transitions. Employees, managers, and leaders have been turned upside down, inside out, and tossed around for the past 18 months.
"We are, or will be, going through the most radical transformation the world has ever seen; people are justly terrified, excited, depressed, heartbroken and hopeful, all at once." - Heather Marsh, Philosopher
While some of us carry on during significant change, the elusive new normal challenges us to find our foothold. It is taking its toll, making us feel more on edge than at ease. Day-to-day stressors, uncertainty, and the specter of what will happen next hang over us, impacting our engagement, productivity, and fulfillment.
It is natural in times of uncertainty to search for ways we can feel grounded again. We long for something positive, assured, and reliable. Many people look for this outside of themselves.
Actually, the answer shows up most powerfully by choosing to look within and become more self-aware.
One powerful way to exercise self-awareness is to appreciate what makes us unique in the workplace – our set of strengths. To become a student of our strengths, we learn how to optimize them, apply them, and rely on them.
Gallup analysis reveals that people who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs.
Through self-awareness of our strengths, we discover perhaps for the first time what we can be and do without focusing on our weaknesses or comparing ourselves to others—which can feel defeating.
As a result of new self-awareness, our resiliency surfaces to support us as we engage our strengths and find that we can rely on ourselves and re-engage freshly with more confidence, understanding, and purpose despite knowing more change is coming.
Why is this? Being strengths-aware gives us a clear and present understanding of what drives us to achieve, progress, and grow. Strengths-awareness provides the framework to recognize:
projects that tap into our strengths
how work culture can energize or deplete us
our work-life values
what inspires, motivates, and engages us
people who complement our strengths and can fill gaps to achieve goals
why some people uplift our spirits, others drain us, and how to appreciate both
When you embrace your strengths and get skilled at applying them in real-life situations, you have more choices, opportunities, and you learn when to say yes and how to say no. Our strengths-awareness acts as a buffer to the highs and lows of work, change, and uncertainty. We feel a renewed sense of purpose, our mindset positively shifts, and we begin to look at our work experience as a new opportunity, a challenge, even a gift.
Strengths reveal themselves best when we are in the Flow State. Positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, defined the Flow State as "the holistic sensation that people feel when they act with total involvement."
Recognizing the Flow State with the four Es:
You feel a sense of ease with the work.
You perform the work at a high level of excellence.
You thoroughly enjoy the process of the work.
The work energizes you, and you want to do it again.
Regardless of our role, we each have a responsibility to take ownership of our strengths to improve our experience. Doing this with individuals leads to cultivating a culture of belonging and well-being where we purposefully support each other, adapt more calmly to change as teams, and become successful examples of organizational resilience.
Our leaders can support strengths-awareness by providing opportunities for managers and teams to learn and apply strengths-awareness at every level to augment our ability to achieve goals, improve team collaboration and increase performance. As an outcome, strengths-awareness facilitates work-life fulfillment for the individual and increases a company's organic growth and outlook.
Keep an eye out for Part Two in The Power of Strengths-Awareness Series: Tapping our strengths to achieve our goals at work.
About Kristina Mercier, CPC, PCC:
Kristina Mercier, CPC, PCC is the founder of Core Momentum Group, a work-life leadership & well-being coaching firm. Along with 20 years of coaching experience in private practice, as an executive career consultant, and as a high-performing team leader at a global corporation, she is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Breathwork Coach, and educated in conscious leadership and well-being. One of her passions is facilitating strengths-awareness and values leadership through her StrengthCORE™ Coaching Program. She can be reached via Linkedin or the website.