It’s human nature to focus on what we don’t have as opposed to what we do; to focus on our weaknesses instead of our strengths. But when we flip our thinking, magical things happen.
‘Why do I get so upset about negative feedback from clients?’
‘Why can’t I get on top of my work? Manage my money better? Get my sh*t together?’
What’s wrong with me?
We spend a lot of time and energy lamenting, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ but what if we forgot about ‘what’s wrong with me’ for a moment and considered ‘what’s right?’ How much better would you feel if you spent your days thinking:
‘I’m really glad I’m able to quickly get to know my clients and understand their challenges’, or
‘I love that I get to learn new skills every day and spend my time spread across a variety of interesting tasks.’
Or if you’re me; ‘I’m so happy to have my lovely audience because researching and writing is my favourite thing and it gives me a reason to do what I love.’
Psychology for many years has been pretty focused – like you and I – on what’s wrong. We became experts on illness and dysfunction and what happened when people get broken.
Then, 15 years ago, Positive Psychology emerged and we began to ask the question: ‘What’s right with us?’
What makes us grow? Succeed? Bounce back? Flourish?
What makes us win at life?
Two psychologists, Martin E Seligman and Christopher Peterson, got particularly interested in this topic and they spent a good chunk of time putting together a framework for understanding ‘character strengths’ – the attributes that we all have that bring us happiness when we use them. Things like ‘love of learning’ and creativity’ and ‘hope’ and ‘humour’ and ‘zest.’
Want more articles like this? Check out the business psychology section.
There’s a questionnaire that you can complete online, the VIA Strengths Survey, that they developed from this research and many coaches (like myself) use the results from this questionnaire to help you to understand your strengths and to use them more in everyday life.
Why would we want to do that?
Because we know that understanding and using your strengths helps to:
- Increase your happiness and wellbeing
- Increase your confidence
- Build your self esteem
- Create energy and vitality
- Reduce stress
- Build your resilience.
Pretty cool huh?
Knowing and using your strengths is a big step towards knowing what’s right with you and that’s a powerful piece of knowledge for success in business and in life.
When we focus on what’s right instead of what’s wrong:
- We feel confident, not despondent.
- We experience empowerment, not frustration.
- We take steps towards achieving our goals rather than retreating into that ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s all too hard’ place.
Discovering and learning more about my strengths has been a game changer for me. It has explained a lot about why I enjoy doing the things that I do and why I love certain tasks and loathe others.
Knowing my strengths and what’s right with me has given me the confidence to write and facilitate and to pour my energy into working with other women online. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am doing what’s right for me and I get to experience every day the satisfaction that comes with that.
If you’d like to uncover more of what’s right with you instead of what’s wrong with you, try these:
- Make a list of your favourite business activities – the ones that come easily and that you most enjoy doing. Are there any common themes? Do they involve interacting with others, or solving problems, or creating something, or organising? If you can see themes, they’re your strengths.
- Ask for feedback from others. Often our strengths are as plain as the nose on our face but we can’t see them because we’re too close. Ask a close colleague to tell you what they think you’re best at and why. Make a list. They’re your strengths.
- Self-assessment: This is a list of common strengths. Circle those that you think most apply to you. Keep the list handy, refer back to it whenever you find your mind wandering to what’s wrong, and use it to remind yourself of what’s right with you.
When was the last time you checked in with your strengths?