Last week saw the launch of my eighth book, The Strengths Workbook: An Eight-Week Programme to Discover Your Strengths and What Makes You Thrive.
I wrote this book because some of the readers of my previous book, The Strengths Book, asked for more!
This launch was a superb event. There were around 100 guests from all sorts of backgrounds and organisations, a fun and relaxed vibe, and three elements that made it particularly special:
- The stunning location right on the river Thames.
- Our client, Ofcom, hosted the event, as a round-off to the work we’ve been doing with them on increasing the diversity of their future leaders. That made it feel like an even more special celebration.
- Stefan Stern, FT and Guardian journalist, brought his interviewing flair and humour. As one of the guests, Iain Wilkie, Tweeted: “…a hugely enjoyable and successful launch”.
Being interviewed by an A-class journalist like Stefan is satisfying, if a little nerve-racking. If you love the excitement of improv classes or Argentine tango, as I do, it’s fun being put on the spot and rolling with wherever the questions take you.
One of Stefan’s questions was whether there is a danger that once you find your strengths, you just coast along in your comfort zone.
Someone I’ve been working with immediately sprang to mind and I used him as an example of why this isn’t the case. He’s just taken up a Diversity and Inclusion role. His top strengths are making a difference, problem solving, analysing and connecting with people. He realised these were his strengths after quite a bit of reflection and feedback from others. He told me he wouldn’t have accepted the position had he not known his strengths, because he would have thought it was too big of a challenge; the work is tough because it’s in a traditional, male-dominated organisation where not everyone believes in what he’s doing. He’s had to use his strengths in a more skilful and nuanced way because of the context. Basically, it’s harder to influence in this environment than it has been before for him. But, because his job means he uses his strengths every day, he’s stretching himself now and loves it.
Other questions from Stefan and guests included whether knowing their strengths is particularly beneficial for women (it can be, because it builds confidence), how we can spread the word into schools (that’s happening gradually through word of mouth) and whether empathy can be taught (no, it can’t – you can teach people some behaviours associated with empathy, but you can’t make them into something they’re not).
The idea of The Strengths Workbook is that the reader works on a different set of exercises each week for eight weeks. By the end, they will have a deep knowledge of their strengths and will be getting into the habit of using them consciously. I know, from our work at Engaging Minds, that feeling this level of knowledge and connection with our strengths leads to a confidence that means we trust in our own choices.
In the past year my team and I have worked with all sorts of people including prison officers, nurses, seafarers, female prisoners, air traffic controllers and senior leaders. Irrespective of the person’s situation or job, the themes are consistent: most people don’t really know their strengths and so therefore cannot consciously use them.
My hope for The Strengths Workbook is that it will be like having an ‘on-paper’ coach for eight weeks, so readers will emerge with a real understanding of who they are, can be themselves to the max, and make great study or work choices.
Do you know anyone who is unhappy or is unsure of what they want to do with their lives, or who simply lacks confidence in themselves?
Do you know anyone whose job it is to help others – careers advisers, teachers or coaches?
Or, do you know any organisations who want to transform their results by having employees who are in roles for which they are a good fit?
If so, please tell them about The Strengths Book and The Strengths Workbook.
Knowing our strengths really does transform organisations and change lives.
(Images of The Strengths Workbook launch with thanks to Martin Gardner.)