Most people will agree that the world is currently going through a lot of fundamental change. This is a giant shake up and reshuffle. It is the breaking down of old ways of doing things to make way for the new. This is not a gentle and gradually transition, but rather a radical transformation that we have been thrust into. As a result of this, and because, to a large degree, we have no relevant past experience to refer to, to help us predict where this transformation will lead us, it is a time of heightened stress levels, confusion and the feeling of being out of our comfort zone.
In the past, most people got through school and either studied something that would enable them to earn a decent salary, or simply got whatever job they could find. Then they worked hard to become competent at that job. Work for these people was what they had to do to make a living and be able to do the things that they enjoyed. This meant that most people found themselves in jobs that didn’t allow them to do what they do best. And therefore, their job became a source of de-motivation and frustration for them, the 8 to 5 grind. This de-motivation has lead to companies adopting the carrot and stick approach in an attempt to generate some level of motivation, albeit artificial.
People tended to assume that anyone could do their job if they worked hard enough at it, because that was the formula that they had followed. This led to the belief that they had to “protect their turf”. So the lack of knowledge sharing provided a certain amount of job security for them. It was a time when loyalty, rather than value, was rewarded.
So few people got the opportunity to focus on their natural strengths at work and most people believed that success was the result of hard work, and I mean HARD work. Therefore if you were prepared to put in the hard work you could do any job you wanted to do. While there is an element of truth in this, due to the power of the human mind, it is not entirely accurate. No one is created equal in all things. Each of us has unique natural abilities that, combined with skill, knowledge and awareness, become powerful strengths. Thanks to the emergence of strengths psychology, pioneered by Dr. Donald Clifton, we now know that no one can be strong at everything, even with hard work. And no one can do things exactly how you do them, or think in the same way you do. And so, each of us holds a piece of the puzzle, which only we can bring. It is in this that we discover our purpose and unique value.
As our focus shifts from just doing a job, to recognizing and appreciating the unique value we have to offer through building and developing our natural strengths, the attitude of protecting our turf becomes irrelevant. And today, with the way social media is changing our world, we are beginning to realize the power of collaboration, and the power of sharing our unique perspectives and knowledge. A significant mindset change has to take place in order to make this shift possible, because if you believe that anyone can be good at anything with enough hard work, then why would you collaborate. Understanding, developing and sharing our unique natural strengths, is very certainly the currency of the future.
I believe that one of the biggest changes that organisations must go through in order to remain relevant in the new forming global economy, is to become adept at identifying each employee’s unique natural strengths, structure the business in a way that draws most heavily on these, and then create an environment that encourages the collaboration of these strengths within the organisation.
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