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Helped Me to See Life in a Wiser, Healthier Way!
on October 25, 2010
Marcus Buckingham's book, "Go, Put Your Strengths to Work" was my introduction to what is being called "the strengths movement." And what an introduction! This book has had a profound impact on my life, as I'll explain a little later. I highly recommend it as a powerful book to change your life for the better.
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.