In this great Ted talk by Shawn Achor entitled The Happy Secret to Better Work he is not only giving an example of a brilliant presentation (some great ideas to steal here!) but also, eloquently and sometimes hilariously, he outlines why it’s a good idea to think positively about life and work.
So, he tells us, in days gone by his little sister fell awkwardly onto her hands and knees from the top bunk. To distract her from her pain he pointed out that she looked like a unicorn and, indeed, probably was one.
He quickly looked for and saw the positive in the situation and she was happy.
And happiness, it seems, like the unicorn has a magic of its own. Surprisingly, it supercedes IQ as a key ingredient to being an effective and successful person.
This is why in all our training programmes we try to focus on working with peoples’ strengths… and it’s not always easy.
When we ask people what they’re good at they quite often reinterpret our question to list their failings.
Or their minds go blank.
Or in some cases people demand to hear our criticism because otherwise they worry the work isn’t “robust” enough.
Well, I guess, our whole education systems are geared around crosses not ticks so it’s what a lot of us are used to…and we do like to cling on to the familiar even if it does mean wearing a hair shirt.
However focusing on weaknesses is a flawed path.
Let’s look at presentation skills training as an example:
Now I’ll ‘fess up – I am rubbish at telling jokes. I can’t do accents, I stumble over the timing, and more often than not I forget the punchline.
On the other hand, I’m a good storyteller.
So would you send me to do stand up comedy classes to enhance my joke telling in my presentations?
Or would you send me to discover more about corporate storytelling?
It seems to me, its a choice between becoming slightly less awful at joke telling (with a lot of agonising hard work) or possibly becoming even better at storytelling.
If I want to do really good presentations I think I know what I’ll focus on and that will make me happier and more positive.
Once you know your best qualities and you own them you are poised to do even more of what you are good at…