“It is how we choose what we do and how we approach it that will determine whether the sum of our days adds up to a formless blur or to something resembling a work of art.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

FIERCELY ALIVE: What Will You Do?: 2.3.2

Adapting to Flourish 

The need to be appreciated and to be in relationships with others are two of the deepest longings we all share.  We also possess a profound and deep-seated need to direct our own lives. Shawn Achor, in The Happiness Advantage, reports on a myriad of studies which suggest that absent a sense of control in our lives, we experience significant, negative impacts on our health and well-being.  One study indicates that lack of control at work is as great a risk factor for heart disease as high blood pressure. Conversely, the National Study of the Changing Workforce survey of 3000 workers indicated that feelings of control at work produced greater satisfaction at work, at home, in relationships, and in life in general.



Gaining more control at work can begin with realizing that although at times we may not have a choice with what we need to do, we can decide how we will go about it.  We can proactively adapt our activities to utilize our character strengths.  As  a result, we are significantly more likely to flourish – up to 18 times more than those with low strengths use, according to the research of Lucy Hone.

In Jane Dutton’s research, she uses the term “job crafting” to describe how we can customize our work by re-defining tasks, our interaction with others, or the way we perceive our work.   The process of adapting our work to match our strengths can begin with a small step.  When the Mayerson Academy team works with individuals, teams, or organizations to adapt roles to activate character strengths, we frequently begin with a simple question: “Is there an area of your work, or a specific task, where you would like to increase your performance or engagement?”

Having established that there are plenty of places for improvement, we then explore what the selected tasks or areas might look like if participants proactively brought their strengths to the work.  This is an “aha moment’ for people.  Being able to see work as malleable and adaptable for personal expression creates new potential.   A member of our own Mayerson Academy team tells a great story about a small change that made a big difference.

I love working with groups, exploring strengths, and helping folks discover how to be at their best to realize their aspirations. But I what I really don’t love is designing, building curriculum and content.  I could create an end product that I felt good about, but the process was pretty miserable.  One of my signature strengths is humor.  When casually engaging with colleagues, I like to inject a sense of playfulness and fun.  I realized I could actually do this with my presentations.  I could inject funny gifs, memes and slide titles into my materials prep.  The result? A task I dreaded is now enjoyable.  I am bringing more of my authentic self to the work, and as a result, participants are more engaged, too.

The more we engage in job crafting, integrating the very best of ourselves, the more automatic it becomes. We can also apply our character strengths to realize and enjoy new achievements. More on this here.