Sunday, February 11, 2007

Shedding Light On Our Sundials

What are your talents and your key strengths? And what are you doing to maximize these day-to-day?

I recently received a fascinating book for my birthday, written by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton: Now, Discover Your Strengths. Refreshingly, this book sets out to dispel the “pervasive myth” that excellent performers must be well-rounded. It asserts instead that “you will only excel by maximizing your strengths, never by fixing your weaknesses.”

To what extent are we maximizing our strengths, versus taking the traditional ‘problem-solving’ approach and expending our energies on fixing our weaknesses?

“Benjamin Franklin called wasted strengths “Sundials in the Shade”. Too many organizations, teams and individuals unknowingly hide their sundials in the shade,” write Buckingham and Clifton. Their book seeks to help us shed light on our “sundials”, for “the real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths, it’s that we fail to use the ones we have.” Shedding some light on our sundials, we can then make sure they are aligned (parallel with the earth’s axis) and angled (depending on their latitude) for consistent, near-perfect performance.

What we can do to make sure we shed light on our “sundials”, building on our talents and maximizing our strengths? How can we work individually, in our teams and throughout our organization to identify and describe our talents? - For, if Buckingham and Clifton are right (and I like to believe that they are) we can then work together to find ways to maximize our strengths and really excel.

In the next week or so, we’re going to be following some of the authors’ advice and testing their tools. I’m very keen to see what they have to offer, and hope to be soon turning my talents into greater strengths. I’ll also be speaking with Gillian about her reflections on the work of these authors… after all, she was the one who started me on this path having looked into her own strengths with them some years ago. I have a sneaking suspicion she may have the “maximizer” talent :)