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80% of people at corporations don’t feel fully engaged at work. There has been a lot of emphasis on what companies should be doing to change that.

However, I think every one of us can take part in this change, and we can start making the change within us today.

It is true that many people leave their jobs because of bad culture, management style, or inflexible work practice.

However, research also shows that one of the key reasons we are not fully engaged at work is because we don’t do what we do best every day. In fact, 9 out of 10 people based on Gallup research don’t feel that they get to use their natural strengths at work.

Most of us need three key primary elements to be in place for us to feel happy and engaged at work: Feeling competent, autonomy, and good relationships at work.

This is why people still don’t feel motivated with their work, even when they like the people they work with and have the flexibility at work. Fundamentally, feeling competent and accomplished based on our natural talents and strengths is the key to our fulfilment.

I would argue that the autonomy and relationships are often out of our control, we cannot choose who is our co-worker, our manager, and how flexible the workplace is. We can help improve these elements, but largely they are out of our direct control.

One thing that we can make change is whether we can do what we do best every day, whether we understand what our natural strengths are and how we start making the use of them every day.

Simply, strengths are the things that we do great naturally, things we feel like that we are born to do well. Often with no or little training, you just get them and do them exceptionally well, and you feel energised, happy and competent while you are using your strengths.

However, I find there are some misconceptions around the strength concept, and I would like to demystify it so it is easier for us to apply at work:

  • We don’t just have a few strengths. Each of us has at least 10-20 strengths
  • Strengths are not limited to just skillsets (e.g. writing, public speaking)
  • Strength is not the same as passion. You can have a passion but the passion may not align with your strength. People who pursue passion without the backup of strengths might find it difficult to sustain

Strength includes what you do and how you do it. So imagine you are good at following things:

  • What you do best naturally – writing, building relationships, creating new ideas, connecting dots etc.
  • How you get things done naturally – innovative, zestful, curious, creative etc.

So in an ideal world, your job should naturally include all of these elements so you feel like completely at home.

In reality, most of our jobs are not perfect, so it is up to you to know exactly what your natural strengths are and start to integrate them into your daily work.

The important thing is getting doing. You don’t have to use all your strengths once, even if you get to exercise 1 or 2 strengths a day, you will feel much more energised.

The danger would be if we don’t use our natural strengths at work, we will feel like completely out of sync with our best version of ourselves, and feel no more joy at work. The greater danger is that if we don’t master this skill, it is likely we will repeat our patterns when we move into a different job after the initial honeymoon stage wears off.

Let’s start making the shift today:

  • So what are your top 10 strengths? If you don’t know, how could you find out?
  • How can you start bringing your strengths to work and re-shape how you operate today?
  • If you have colleagues who are struggling today, how can you start sharing this concept with them so they can start re-energise their work?
  • If you are a leader, how can you help discover your team’s strengths so they can be more engaged at work?

What do you think? I would love to hear your comments.

Yu Dan