Today, I'm bringing you a recent chat I had with Jessica Prater, of J Prater Consulting. Jessica is an industrial/organizational psychologist who works with small to mid-sized businesses. She often uses strength and personality assessments to lead individuals and teams to maximize their strengths in ways that result in reaching desired goals.
In this post and video, Jessica offers three tips for how knowing your strengths will help you prevent burnout in your work and/or business. I also added one tip to the list: #3: Accept that you have limited time.
Watch our brief chat, or read the transcript below.
Four tips for preventing burnout by using your strengths:
1 | Know when you're "stretching"
When you are aware of your strengths, it helps you work through times when you're stretching. Tasks that stretch you are ones that often require you to function outside your top strengths.
If you understand your strengths, and you're required to stretch, then you know ahead of time that these tasks hold the potential to induce stress, or lead you toward burnout. Taking into consideration that stretch tasks will take you out of your comfort zone will help you approach them strategically.
For example, if you're an introvert and you've been promoted to a position that requires consistent public speaking, you are able to prepare for your speaking engagements by utilizing your knowledge of introversion. This may mean that you schedule regular speaking practice, ensure that you are familiar with your presentation's content, and develop systems for keeping track of new contacts.
2 | Mitigate, mitigate, mitigate!
If you are working outside your comfort zone--that is, if you're stretching, ask yourself if there is something you can do to mitigate your weaknesses during the stretch. For example:
- Is there a program you can use (e.g., an app that eliminates desktop distractions, a timer, reminders, etc.)?
- Is there something you can automate?
When you must complete a project that doesn't involve your natural strengths, tools can decrease the potential negative impact of the stretch on you and the situation.
In my own life (Ili), one area that stretches me is organization. As a result, I keep a daily list of priority tasks, and I make sure to schedule everything on my calendar. I also utilize the "mark as busy" feature in Google calendars for checks and balances--to safeguard against double-booking.
"Are you wanting to work on your weaknesses to make them marginal, or are you wanting to work on your strengths to make them exceptional?"
3 | Accept that you have limited time
We have one life to live, and only twenty four hours in a day. The reality is, we will only be able to become experts at a few things in one lifetime.
Recent research also suggests that how you work matters more than how hard you work, and that "top performers do less" (Hansen, 2018). Most likely, developing and maximizing your top strengths is a wiser time investment than improving your weaknesses. Therefore, protecting yourself from your weaknesses by partnering with colleagues with complementary strengths, or mitigating, is a beneficial strategy for stretching.
4 | Surround yourself with people who appreciate you
Knowing your strengths, and surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you, will improve your sense of well-being. Family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and mentors who understand your strengths will often encourage you to make the best of things in any circumstance. Also, after a brief or long "stretching" session, people who love and accept you will likely support you as you debrief and de-stress.
Questions for Jessica:
What's a great way to comfort yourself while you stretch?
So, I bring it back to my motivation. When I'm stretching, I think about:
- What am I learning?
- How can this make me better at what I do?
- I focus on the good that I get out of it.
What apps, or hacks do you use to mitigate the stress of stretching?
For me, [keeping track of] finances is not my skill in life, so I have a fantastic tax guy. He has my cell phone number, and I have his. And, I use invoicing software. I have tools in place, for example, scheduling apps, that automate my life and make it a little bit easier. Additionally, I'm not so skilled at being on time, so I employ a fantastic calendar that keeps me in the right place at the right time.
Tip: Use technology to leverage your weaknesses.
Apply these tips with the Know Your Strengths Cheat Sheet + Checklist.
It includes a list of tasks and questions for maximizing your strengths. Access it in the free resource library, by registering for instant access, here:
Let me know in the comments below:
- What do you believe are your top strengths?
- How do you know?