When I graduated, Professor Martin Seligman set our Masters of Positive Psychology class a challenge: “By the year 2051, could we help 51 percent of the people in the world to be flourishing.”
It’s a challenge he has repeated in his writing and public speeches around the world. It’s a challenge I know stirs the hope in many researchers and practitioners of positive psychology. It’s a challenge that will only be answered by a global tribe who are willing to unite their reach and influence to give others tested, practical, small ways to apply what we are discovering.
It is my heartfelt hope you will be part of that tribe.
In August 2015, we launched a free one-week Strengths Challenge, which was joined by thousands of people from around the world to:
There was no cost for people to participate. This was genuinely about helping people put their strengths to work so more of us might flourish.
The response was beyond our wildest dreams with people joining us from countries across the globe and initial results exceeding all expectations.
We will be running the free Strengths Challenge again in 2016 for people around the world and would be truly grateful if you have people in your network you’d like to invite to join us. We’ll provide you with everything you need including:
Just enter your email address below and we’ll let you know when the Strengths Challenge 2016 dates are finalized.
If you’d like to host a strengths intervention, please email email@example.com
Shhhh! Can you hear it?
There’s a revolution taking place at this very moment in our workplaces and it’s being led by people – just like you and I. Want to join us?
Fed up with jobs that drain people’s energy, there’s a grass-roots campaign underway in a growing number of workplaces aimed at restoring people’s happiness.
And it’s about to hit a tipping point.
You see a decade ago 63% of us believed we’d grow most at work in our areas of weaknesses. As a result only about a third of us could name our strengths –
those things we’re good at and enjoy doing – and only 2 out of every 10 people could report they had the opportunity to do what they do best each day at work.
But today this is all changing.
Recently we discovered 64% of us now believe that building on our strengths will make us more successful at work. As a result half of us can name our strengths and 5 out of every 10 people report they have the opportunity to do what they do best each day at work.
And while some people are fortunate enough to work for enlightened organizations and bosses who are encouraging a strengths focus, a quarter of them are not. That’s right 25% of us are developing our strengths without anyone’s permission or support.
Why are people doing this?
Because people who have the opportunity to do what they do best each day say they actually look forward to going to work. Not only that but 78% of them feel engaged and energized in their jobs because they believe what they do is making a difference and is appreciated. And instead of struggling or suffering, these are the people most likely to be flourishing at work.
How are they pulling this off?
Become a 2016 Strengths Challenge partner and help your tribe find out how just 11 minutes of doing what they do best each day can make all the difference in their jobs.
When I first uncovered the science of strengths I dreamed of spending more of my days in a blissful haze of fulfilling, joyful and rewarding work. It all seemed so easy.
Discover what your strengths are, use them as you move through each day. Then luxuriate in the success and joy of doing what you love.
How hard could it be?
Turns out it was much tougher than I thought. You see between a job I didn’t really like, children to feed and a husband to tend, I just couldn’t seem to find the time to fit my strengths in. Despite my best intentions, after figuring out what my strengths actually were, weeks ticked by with no changes at all being made in my life.
Sound familiar at all?
Convinced the pay off of increased engagement, easier goal achievement, lower stress and better overall wellbeing was too high to simply give up, I became determined to find a busy-proof way of doing more of what I did best. I haven’t yet found a way to manufacture more time, but I did stumble upon a secret to using my time more effectively.
Researchers at Duke University estimate up to 40% of our actions each day are not conscious choices but mere habits. That’s a little more than six hours each day we risk losing to mere routines.
No wonder William James, the father of modern psychology, cautioned decades before that: “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits—practical, emotional, and intellectual— systematically organized for our weal or our woe, and bearing us irresistibly towards our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”
Pretty scary stuff right?
Luckily, researchers at MIT have found that our habits run on a simple loop of cue, routine and reward. So how could I harness this pattern to reap all those lovely benefits of strengths-led behaviors?
With my challenging schedule in mind, I decided to start small with an 11-minute daily strengths habit. Why eleven minutes? This was the busy-proof number that would fit into even the most hectic of days. No matter what was going on, I could always find 11 minute
Choosing to work first on using my strength of curiosity more, I committed to using the first thirty seconds to make it easy to cue up the habit and get it started. A cue can be almost anything, from a visual trigger to a certain place, a time of day, an emotion, a sequence of thoughts, or even the company of particular people.
Pulling on every tool available I anchored my habit to turning on my computer each morning and embedded it into my environment by setting my web browser to open at my favorite research sites. Then for good measure, I primed my brain with a “when/then” statement so my head would already know what to do when I found myself in a situation: “When I turn on my computer, then I will use my strength of curiosity to learn more about positive psychology.”
Once the habit’s started, routine can take over for the next ten minutes. A routine can be physical, mental or emotional, and it can be incredibly complex or fantastically simple.
My curiosity routine was to read the research that fascinated me and luxuriate in the joy of learning new things.
The last thirty seconds – perhaps the most important of all – are to reward yourself for the use of your strengths. A reward can be anything that produces a natural rush of dopamine – the feel good chemical in your head – that gets you craving more of the same behavior.
I celebrated by writing down one thing I’d just learnt (yes I’m a nerd). Then at the end of each week I’d package these ideas up into an email for my boss.
And my eleven minutes were done. Cue. Routine. Reward.
It took just days for this strengths habit to become the highlight of my work. It took just months for this email to spread virally through my office until more than 100 people were receiving it each week. And it took almost exactly one year for my boss to move me out of the job I didn’t like and into a new role where my strengths could truly shine.
Best of all, my story is not unique.
During the 2015 Strengths Challenge people all over the world created 11-minute strengths habit and reported all kinds of positive changes. Enter your email below if you’d like to: