This month more than 800 Northern Kentucky University (NKU) staff members spent the day exploring a strengths-development approach to work led by Michelle McQuaid internationally acclaimed strengths-based teacher and best-selling author. Sponsored by Mayerson Family Foundation, the event was dedicated to building a community that Fuels the Flame of learning by consistently naming, utilizing and developing each person’s unique strengths every day.
We are so prone to think of our weaknesses, why focus on strengths? Science has repeatedly found that it is our strengths, not our weaknesses, where we experience our greatest opportunities for growth and increased performance.
In its simplest form, a strength is something you are good at and enjoy doing. They represent patterns of thinking, feeling or behaving that, when exercised, will excite, engage and energize you, and allow you to perform at your optimum level. – Michelle McQuaid
As part of the day-long event, participants were invited to identify their strengths and begin to learn how to use them more effectively by including a simple 11 minute strength habits formula into each day. Why 11 minutes?
— Michelle McQuaid (@chellemcquaid) June 17, 2015
Well for a start no matter how busy you are you can probably always find 11 minutes somewhere in your day. Secondly, small changes can make a big difference provided you start – so keep it simple to make it easier to use your strengths every day. – Michelle McQuaid
Anyone can use the simple “Habit Loop” method discovered by researchers at MIT to reframe their day and start feeling more engaged, more motivated and realizing more success in their lives. Just follow three simple steps:
- A Cue – Start a new habit by anchoring it to one that already exists, using “when/then” statements to program your brain.
- A Routine – Spend 10 minutes practicing the desired behavior to give your neurons time to wire new pathways.
- A Reward – Celebrate by checking it off the list or sharing the good news with someone.
Over time this habit loop: cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward – becomes more and more automatic until a habit is born.
It will be exciting to see where this journey goes as NKU grows this work to reach all of its community. Stay tuned!