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Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance Hardcover – March 6, 2007
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Buckingham, an authority on workplace issues, provides a road map for managers to learn for themselves and then teach their employees how to approach their work by emphasizing their strengths rather than weaknesses. He offers a six-step plan for six weeks of reading and habit-forming action for discerning strengths, along with optional tools to enhance the process such as online questions for measuring strengths and downloaded films (two of which are free). The steps of his plan are belief that the best way to compete is capitalizing on your strengths, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, volunteering your strengths at work, lessening the impact of your weaknesses on your team, effectively communicating the value of your strengths while limiting work utilizing weaknesses, and building habits and pushing activities that play to strength. Although everyone will not agree with all the elements of Buckingham's approach, he offers valuable insight into maximizing employees' strengths rather than the more common focus on weaknesses and failure. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Marcus Buckingham spent seventeen years at the Gallup Organization, where he conducted research into the world's best leaders, managers, and workplaces. The Gallup research later became the basis for the bestselling books First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Best Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster) and Now, Discover Your Strengths (Free Press), both coauthored by Buckingham. Buckingham has been the subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek and Fast Company. He now has his own company, providing strengths-based consulting, training, and e-learning. In 2007 Buckingham founded TMBC to create strengths-based management training solutions for organizations worldwide, and he spreads the strengths message in keynote addresses to over 250,000 people around the globe each year. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jane and children Jackson and Lilia. For more information visit: marcusbuckingham.com
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The book takes the ideas of knowing your strengths to the next steps for implementation and action.
What is particularly interesting about this book is that it is clearly a 21st Century publication, at an expected competitive price. The book contains a code that allows the reader to access a brief assessment tied to the basic content of the book, an opportunity to watch segments of the companion film, Trombone Player Wanted, and the essential forms for implementing the concepts. So instead of having to purchase a separate workbook, it's all included. For that plus the excellent content, I say thank you. It's not a short book, but it was engaging enough that I did it in short segments over two days.
The idea at the center of the strengths movement is that excellence is not the opposite of failure and that, therefore, you will learn little about excellence from studying failure. The action based on this belief is that we should focus on finding and employing our strengths in life because doing so will make us more creative and happier, and better at what we do. To reach this goal, we need to assess our lives and jobs and discover how well they are allowing us to use our strengths.
Surprisingly, most people are already at jobs that can allow them to maximize their strengths. The trick is to look at what you currently do and to increase dramatically how much of the time in your life you're actually playing to your strengths: in other words, see if you can restructure your life and job around your strengths.
Buckingham suggests a 6-Step Discipline:
1. Bust the Myths - believe that capitalizing on your strengths is a better way forward than working on your weaknesses
2. Get Clear - identify your strengths and weaknesses
3. Free Your Strengths
4. Stop Your Weaknesses
5. Speak Up - talk about your strengths and weaknesses
6. Build Strong Habits
The "AHA" Moment for me came near the beginning of the book as Buckingham discussed why it was that so many of us are still drawn to learning the things we lack or are not good at. In the process of reading "Go, Put Your Strengths to Work" I discovered that too often I focus on and complain about what I don't have and what I'm not instead of seeing and giving thanks for what I do have and what God has made me. A corollary to this is that instead of going to bed late thinking I've never done enough for God or my neighbor, I can go to be even if things are left undone. This was very liberating to me!
Buckingham astounded me even further when he wrote that it was a myth that as you grow, your personality changes. The truth, instead, is that "As you grow, you become more of who you already are." This is exactly what I've found to be true in my life and the lives of countless others, and yet the ideas in my head didn't match up to what I was witnessing. This is not to deny the reality of true spiritual change. But your basic personality is not what really changes in a spiritual change: just the way that you choose to use what God has already given you.
The greatest change in my thinking came when I went through Buckingham's exercises in which he asks the reader to answer the following 3 questions:
1. How does it serve you to believe that as you grow your personality changes?
2. What would it cost you to stop believing this?
3. How would it benefit you more to believe that as you grow, you become more of who you are?
As I answered these questions, a great deal of stored up wisdom flowed from my heart to my head to my hand as I wrote down my answers. These are 3 profound questions that can be applied to many important areas of life, and they helped me to realize a lot of important things about myself. I found myself, for example, measuring my "success" in a new and healthier way. The remainder of the book works out the ideas I've already summarized above, especially the 6-Step Discipline.
I believe this book has the power to cause you to examine your life and to, in turn, live a life that is wiser, healthier, and happier - not just on a material but also on a spiritual level.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for answers about themselves.