If you already have reorganized your life based on reading First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths, you don't need this book for yourself. But if you haven't helped your colleagues make the same adjustments, you'll find this book helpful. If you've made the needed shifts in both areas, you can skip Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
Based on Marcus Buckingham's latest survey, it seems like just as few people feel they should focus on improving their strengths as before he started to write about this subject. Writing books obviously only goes so far. This book attempts to help you change your habits.
Before going too far, let me remind (or share with you) that the Buckingham definition of a strength is something that makes you feel great while you do it. Because you have this positive reaction, you'll do this activity more often, get better at it, and stay energized by your work. For me, a strength is writing about how to create 2,000 percent solutions and helping the world make progress at 20 times the usual rate.
Contrast this with something you do very well, but hate doing! For me, that's doing tax returns. I'm great at it, but I feel drained by the experience.
Most people don't work on their strengths because they believe certain myths (I would call them misconception stalls):
1. Your personality changes with age.
2. You will grow most in your areas of greatest weakness.
3. A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.
Mr. Buckingham argues persuasively that the opposite is true in each case.
With your purchase of the book, you get access to a Web site where you can put in a code from your dust jacket to take a test called a Strengths Engagement Track (SET) that you can use to see where you are in employing your strengths and then to see how much you progress as you go through the book's process.
I cannot report on how well this process works because in my initial assessment my score was almost 100% to begin with. I'm able to read and apply what I learn and have obviously already absorbed and used the material from the earlier books.
The rest of the work-improvement process involves watching some videos and finishing a six step process which I have paraphrased below:
1. Learn the truth about those misconception stalls.
2. Identify your top three strengths.
3. Change your work to spend more time applying your strengths.
4. Reduce how much time you spend on activities that drain your energy and enthusiasm.
5. Be proactive in working with your boss and team members to refocus your work.
6. Turn the new directions into habits.
There are the usual forms, formats, reminders, and lists to help you reinforce the new, the sort of thing you get at a human resources training program. If you like those things, this book is quite detailed in that regard. Between downloading from the Web site and using materials bound into the book, you'll have everything you probably need.
To me the best part of the book came in the examples. One example goes through all the chapters and involves Heidi who is a marketing brand director for Hampton hotels. What she likes to do is to work with motivated people to improve excellence. What she does now is nag unmotivated people to do things they don't want to do. She's burning out. The story is very good for explaining how the 6 steps work. In the fifth step, there are examples built around Christine, who works for Martin, as director of program development for a training company that serves Fortune 500 companies. Martin can't follow what's going on without his people using an obscure form that Christine doesn't understand and hates.
If the book had contained about five times as many examples, it would have been a lot easier. As it is, I think most people should plan from the beginning to pursue this with a buddy. Step five includes lots of helpful solutions for what your buddy can do to help you.
Start enjoying your work a lot more!
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