I’m doing some contract finance work, and have the great fortune to be working with someone who is almost my exact opposite in terms of temperament and strengths. The benefits of this are numerous – she’s taking the time to help me develop my organizational skills, and seeing how to create and think through something step-by-step.
The best benefit is that she’s showing me that I don’t belong in finance. I have made the right choice going out on a limb and creating an intuitive, right-brained, soul-gift coaching practice.
Why? Because she is my exact opposite, and she is so good at the job. The way her brain works fascinates me, and getting to witness her thought processes shows me why I have hated accounting since I started working in the field:
I don’t have the natural ability to do this type of work.
What has made me successful and valued by my employers is purely that I’m fairly sharp (and so modest!), have a strong work ethic and have an innate love of problem solving. The type of structural, detailed, logical, organized thinking required of an accountant is foreign to me and I’ve struggled to get my brain into the shape necessary to do to the work. I’ve managed, but it hurts.
By contrast, coaching is so intuitive and easy, it doesn’t even feel like work. I believe this is because I’m operating from the core of my strengths, and contrary to what many of us think about work, working from our strengths creates ease.
Gallup has taken the work of Dr. Donald Clifton to create an online version of a Strengthsfinder test, which I highly recommend you consider taking. (If interested, its $10 and you can get a code here. I’m not an affiliate, I just think it’s awesome!) This work, outlined in the book Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, gives evidence that working from our innate gifts actually strengthens us.
If you don’t feel like springing for the test, you can also check out the strengths list here and see which resonate strongly with you.
This post kicks off the first in a month-long series around the theme of ease. Merriam-Webster defines ease as
“1: the state of being comfortable: as
a : freedom from pain or discomfort
b : freedom from care
c : freedom from labor or difficulty
d : freedom from embarrassment or constraint : naturalness
e : an easy fit
2: relief from discomfort or obligation
3: facility, effortlessness <did it with ease>
4: an act of easing or a state of being eased” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ease)
Whenever I set out to write about ease and work at the same time, I end up absorbed in articles online with comments so virulent it leaves my head spinning. American culture places a very strong emphasis on both the merit and necessity of hard work; writing about ease makes me fear some ghost of a founding father will appear and strangle me with an American flag.
What I’d like to suggest is that you can both work hard and have ease at the same time if you are working from your natural strengths. This doesn’t mean that you never work outside of your strengths or learn skills that are outside of your comfort zone; what it means is you start to organize your life around using your strengths as much as possible.
One of my favorite “tricks” with this is to use my strengths to help learn something I’m not particularly good at. For example, I’m using my strategic, input, and futurist strengths to help me learn how to methodically track, prioritize and organize tasks in my contract job – even though I don’t enjoy it – so I can reap the benefits of that in my own business. I’m in the process of developing a free ecourse, and while the content flows naturally for me, it also feels overwhelming to have some many different pieces coming together. You can bet I’ve now got a prioritized spreadsheet full of next steps where I can record and track everything I need to do to finalize the course.
So what are some of your strengths and how can you creatively use them in your life?
Leave a comment with one of your strengths and one way you can use it this week.