Table of Contents
“Doing well is the result of doing good.“
Ralph Waldo Emerson
FIERCELY ALIVE: What Will You Do?: 2.3.3
Be and Do Your Best
Building on your capacity to align and adapt so your tasks play to your strengths can fuel audacious visions. When you are ready to define entirely new boundaries, consider new horizons, or attack big goals, three things are critical to activate the best of yourself and create your most engaged, strengths-based performance.
Pick a goal that aligns with who you (or your team) are at your best. One way we do this in our work with organizations is to encourage participants to look at the types of strengths that are most present. If your signature character strengths tend to be heart-centered and outwardly-oriented, you will likely define inspiring goals differently than if you tend to be head-centered and inwardly-oriented. Based on individual signature strengths, two different version of a similar goal could look like this:
Strengths: Kindness, Love, Humor
Goal: I will lead my organization to be characterized by warm relationships and a sense of connectedness; I will work toward having our organization being identified as a Great Place to Work.
Or alternatively like this:
Strengths: Judgement, Perspective, Love of Learning
Goal: I will lead my organization to be recognized as a thought leader in our sector; we will produce five major publications this year.
When working to achieve a big vision, your progress will be supported and your commitment sustained by the emotional boost and energy you get from identifying a challenging goal resonant with who you are.
Break the goal into smaller workable parts to help determine how to best leverage your signature strengths. As an example, consider the goal of becoming an extraordinary leader. When it comes to leadership at the Mayerson Academy, we favor The Leadership Challenge model developed by Jim Kouzes and Larry Posner. Their analysis of extraordinary leadership identifies 5 essential practices: Model the Way; Inspire a Shared Vision; Challenge the Process; Enable Others to Act; and Encourage the Heart. Seeing extraordinary leadership via its components, makes it easier to understand how we can apply our strengths. One example would be to use a signature strength of honesty to Model the Way as you ensure your language, actions, and intentions authentically match your values. As you do so, you will build trust which is the lifeblood of every effective organization. To see how to activate your unique strengths to develop each component of extraordinary leadership, take a look here.)
Fiercely activating your signature strengths, will release the resources you need to realize your most ambitious goals. Not only are your prospects for achieving increased, but by their very nature, your strengths will help you contribute to the common good and experience authentic self-expression.
When your strengths are engaged, taking action can be as natural as writing with your dominant hand. But, sometimes we cover up aspects of who we are. In fact, 61% of employees indicate doing so at the office on a regular basis. This is where you have to be fierce. Don’t shy away from living the best version of yourself. Activate your kindness, prudence, love, appreciation of beauty and excellence — or whatever your signature strengths are. Allow your strengths to shine and you will give permission for others to do the same, creating a positive upward spiral.
When just one person decides to align goals to strengths, adapt the project where necessary, and drive to achieve authentically, an entire community can benefit. Susan’s story of overcoming a fear by activating signature strengths resulted in powerful outcomes.
Susan had a vision for her community. Looking through the lens of her love of learning and perspective strengths, she wanted to see her community as a place where learners were reminded of who they are at their best from the moment they approached their school. Susan has a vision for visual reminders of character strengths at pedestrian crossings and the circle drive in front of the school. She was intimidated by the prospect of leading a team and making a funding pitch. She didn’t believe she could do it. However, she tapped into her authentic sense of hope and love and made a moving and successful pitch for funding to a packed room of community residents. As a result, she led a team to create the project she had dreamt of. Today, learners within her community elementary school are greeted by positive reminders of the best of their humanity every day as they enter school and she has shared, “ I was overcoming obstacles I never thought I would. I have been changed by the opportunity and am so grateful for it. I am better because of it.”