"Do more of the things that make you feel lighter, not heavier."
Elegantly simple words from one of my wisest and most balanced friends that stuck with me. He had recently taken some time to reflect and recalibrate after successfully exiting a business. Success here is relative though, and it came with a price tag. The lengthy, complicated legal process left him deeply drained to the point of exhaustion.
But he had had a vision that kept him focused until the finish line. This was the culmination of his career and the start of a new family-focused chapter, and that purpose carried him through the ‘heavy’ trials of the transition.
While our own circumstances may be different, we can all relate to his wisdom: do more of what makes you feel lighter. We can all relate to that heavy feeling you get from grinding away at something that drains your energy. Minutes drag by like hours. You struggle to maintain focus, let alone feel like you’ve accomplished anything productive. Yuck.
Too much of that heavy feeling can bring stress, discontent, and long-term consequences. It affects your mood, your relationships, your work, and your health.
I was so captivated by the ‘lighter/heavier’ concept, that I deepened my study of self-awareness, personal development, and ways to take charge of your own behaviours and outcomes.
What I found was a branch of positive psychology called strengths-based development. While perhaps best known for their opinion polls, Gallup has the most robust body of evidence-based research around strengths-based development.
- There is a strong connection between who people are and what they do best.
- There is a strong connection between what people do best and how people feel.
- There is a strong connection between how people feel and how people perform.
The basis for these findings is rooted in our own uniqueness. Gallup has identified that we all have talent – innate ways of thinking, feeling, and doing. And that there is a connection between those talents and our performance.
What’s often left out of conversations around productivity is that how people feel can affect performance. We don’t want to acknowledge ‘feelings’ in business, and that’s a major problem since humans - with feelings – are the ones we count on to execute and produce results.
We live in a culture fixated on fixing weaknesses, instead of accelerating strengths. The constant focus on our shortcomings often makes us feel ‘heavy’ and lacking. Strengths-based development instead focuses the notion that we can learn more from our successes than we do from our failures.
So imagine what would happen if we focused on what’s right with people, instead of what’s wrong with them. Maybe people would find a faster path to connecting to their own deeper purpose. And finding meaning in the work we do gives us higher levels of energy and vitality.
Similar to my friend’s clear vision of his purpose for exiting his business, this strengths-based approach provides something of an action plan or road map to maintain that ‘lighter vs. heavier’ feeling.
When we take the time to examine our successes – to really dig deep into what made that experience successful– we can find the root of our talent, our motivations, and our superpowers.
The simple act of tuning in to our innate talents and applying them more consistently provides breakthrough opportunities to intentionally harness our talent and achieve that ‘light’ feeling that leads to the most positive and sustainable results.
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