The power of a motorcycle is measured in cubic centimeters (CCs). The simplified version is the higher the CCs, the bigger the engine, the more power the motorcycle has. Easy to understand, right? The Kawasaki Eliminator, the bike we use to teach people how to ride, is 125CCs. The motorcycle I ride, a Harley Davidson Street Glide, has nearly 1700CCs. You don’t even have to know anything about motorcycles to know that the Harley has more power than the Kawasaki.
It’s important to know the power of a motorcycle for 2 reasons… 1) there are different users, and 2) there are different uses. As a new rider, you probably don’t have the skill level to handle a Street Glide your first day out. Likewise, you may not fair well riding an Eliminator during a hill climb event. Disaster!
What does this have to do with your professional development? How about everything? When you know your power, you’ll be happier, more productive, your job performance will be higher because you’ll be doing what you were designed to do. You’ll simply enjoy your job more! Knowing your power means knowing what your strengths are.
Think of a time where you were working on a task or project and time just flew by. You were so engrossed in what you were doing that you blew through 3 hours. I call this flow. I call this being in a zone. It’s likely you were working in an area of strength.
Once a week… that’s the answer given during a survey asking how often do you get so involved at work that you lose track of time. Only once a week. I’d hate my job if I was in ‘the zone’ only once a week! We’ve got lots of room for improvement here! So how do we get in ‘the zone’ more than once a week? Start by figuring out what your power is.
Often times, I hear from women who don’t know what their strengths are. Here are 3 ways to identify your unique strengths:
Take a Test
Maybe you’ve already taken the DiSC profile, the Myers-Briggs, or StrenghFinder. There are tons of resources online that can help you out. Beware! These tests are sabotage-able! Answer how you really are… not how you want to be.
Sometimes we’re too close to ourselves to understand what our strengths are. You probably rock out at something and think everyone else can do it naturally as well. Not the case! Other people may have an easier time pinpointing a strength unique to you. To find this out, do what’s ‘officially’ called the Reflected Best Self exercise. Email 10 to 20 people who know you well and ask them to think of a time when they saw you working within an area of strength. Have them tell you specifically what you were doing. Collect these stories and start looking for patterns. You may be surprised what you find! Here’s a formal article about how to do it.
Do a Self-Assessment
This one will take a bit more introspection on your part. I call it the Triangle of Awesomeness. Draw out these circles on a piece of paper. In the top circle, write down all the things you’re GOOD at. In the left circle, write down all the stuff you LIKE to do. In the right circle, write out what brings you FULFILLMENT or where you can make you money. See the little triangle in the middle of the circles? This is what you’re shooting for… your triangle of awesomeness. What shows up on each list? Where do your lists overlap? It’s a strength for you!
So you’ve identified your power, your strength… but this is only the beginning. The real deal comes when you intentionally shift what you do in a day to your strengths. Here’s how I did this…
One day, I walked into my boss’s office and declared, “I’m a starter, not a finisher. So I’m going to start things and not finish them.” After his initial look of confusion, I explained how this was a good thing. I see the big picture and stink at the details. I’m good at building relationships but I stink at paperwork. But I knew people who loved the details and who were paperwork junkies. They were the finishers! The entire process of customer interaction was redesigned so I would start it and they would finish it. It was a thing of beauty!
Want to know what happened? As a team, we were more productive, more efficient, worked fewer hours, and each person was happier because we were all working in our strengths. We blew that ‘once a week’ thing out of the water! Work was fun! Work was fulfilling!
I know… this could’ve been 3 posts so I’m glad you’re still reading it. The watered down version is simply 2 points:
1. Figure out your strengths.
2. Do more of ‘that’.
Change your job description. Redesign your workflow. Delegate tasks that don’t fit in your Triangle of Awesomeness. Find a new job where you’re in a zone more than once a week. Imbalance your day to work in your strengths.
It all begins by Knowing your Power.