fostering a community of people interested in exploring strengths
Dear Moon-Faced TMBC Dreamers:
I don’t know what color my parachute is. I don’t care who moved my cheese. I suspect that “the secret” is that there is no secret. This strengths movement stuff is just another self-help fad based on pie-in-the-sky ideas about how everything will be great in my life if I just (insert fad instruction here). Why should I think that strengths are the magic solution?
You’re right. Strengths aren’t the magical cure-all that will make everything in your life perfect. Nothing is that magical. If you have the worst, cruelest, most incompetent boss in the world, or if your job consists of something you absolutely hate doing, then yes: you’re in a bad spot. But no matter how pessimistic you’re feeling, we’d like to give you three reasons you might want to give your strengths a chance anyway.
First, given that nothing is going to make everything in your life perfect with the simple wave of a magic wand, still: isn’t it better to do something, whatever you can do, to make things better for yourself? If you want to wallow in mediocrity, no one can stop you, but why on earth would you want to do that? You may not achieve perfection, but improvement is still worth something. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. (Ooh, that sounds like “businessese,” doesn’t it? Sorry about that.)
Fine, so you should do something rather than nothing. But why does it follow that you should focus on strengths? Well, for one thing, there’s the data. Surveys of literally hundreds of thousands of workers worldwide show over and over that the number one question that correlates to both high job performance and high job satisfaction is (sing it with us, now!): “At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?” In other words, if you put your strengths to use, you’re going to be happier, and your boss is going to be happier. Which will probably make you happier. Etc. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
Finally, you should focus on your strengths not for us, or for your boss, or for anyone else, but for you. Only you can really figure out what they are. Your strengths are yours, they are basic to who you are, and they are intrinsic. No one can take them away. Even if your job or your boss seem like they’re actively working against you, almost all of us have at least a little wiggle room to control some of our time at work. We at TMBC make no judgement about other programs or systems or theories about how to be your best, but we can say this: the strengths movement is not about applying some rigid theory or following certain steps that guarantee results. It’s about finding out what you love to do, and doing it as much as you can. Go ahead and reject that if you want. But we think that doing so would be, frankly… cynical.
Got a question for the Strengths Cynic? Feel free to post it in the comments.
Questions published in the "Strengths Cynic" column may be composites or rewritten versions of questions that have been posed to TMBC at various times.