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Carla's Call: Why not spend more time on your strengths?
Having recently finished a three week goal setting program with Andrea Owen of Your Kick Ass Life, I walked away experiencing one of those rare ‘ah ha’ moments, or as one course participant put it, a ‘game changer.’ It grew out of a question Owen asked us to ask ourselves: “What in your life is a Hell Yes!? Because if it’s not a Hell Yes! then it’s a Hell No!” When applied to daily choices, it is a powerful perspective that hastens clarity. And as a secondary question, Owen asked, “What in your life are you just tolerating?”
Before the ‘ah-ha’ moment happened though, the hell-yes-no notion did get a bit complicated for me. What about all those pesky parts of life that really don’t feel like Hell Yes! at the time? For example, if it feels, a lot of the time, like life in the inferno when our children spend most of their waking hours devising ways to send their siblings into a spinning rage does this translate into Hell No!? Real life is littered with these stressful and unsavoury moments, with partners, relationships, and work.
That answer is up to us to personally inventory. For example, maybe as a parent you thought staying at home with children full time was what you wanted, but then felt drained when you did it. Maybe, it turns out, you were better at being a working parent because it accommodated the different aspects of yourself as a whole person. Maybe in this way you live more of your Hell Yes! and both you and your loved ones benefit because simply put, you are happier.
This is one example of how, from a bird’s eye view, the bothersome and the mundane may fit at times within Hell Yes!, when they are aligned with our deeper values and wants. And if they are, and we want to not just tolerate, but live in more daily moments of joy, we need to reframe our perspective so we instead see each event as part of the mosaic in lives built based on our own choices.
At the end of the program, what the ‘ah ha’ moment translated into for me was this: So many of us aren’t naturally inclined to look at where our Hell Yes! rests. Many of us are taught from childhood that if we are not good at something, we had better improve. “Why can’t you spell better than that! Look at how you do your math! But it’s science, it’s simple, what don’t you get! I know you can run faster than that, try harder!”
I’m not suggesting we stop working on fundamental skills, they are essential, and overcoming something that is difficult builds discipline and esteem.
However, step back and survey just how much time you and I and our kids have in a day. If we are spending all of our time trying to get good at what we’re bad at, where do we spend the time getting better at where we naturally excel?
Play this one out a bit. In child development it’s sometimes referred to as developing islands of competence, or resilience, and in adulthood, I’ve recently heard it referred to as the “cycle of excellence.”
The theory is that we need to take account of what we naturally love, excel at, and where our strengths lie, and then do more of it. As we focus on it, we get better at it, do more of it, enjoy it more, get positive feedback (resulting in satisfaction and money, among the rewards). We are then fully engaged in the excellence cycle. In childhood, it builds confidence, and when we carry that through to adulthood, it builds a career and a life built on passion and excellence. When we feel like shouting, “I love my life!” that’s good for us and everyone around us.
For today, I ask you to ask yourself, “what in my life is a Hell Yes!?” and then start doing more of it. Right away. Because, to borrow Owen’s tag line, “Life’s just too short for it not to kick ass.”
Marshall & Associates provides human resources plus individual and group development services.
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