One of the big gaps I see with well-known strengths approaches is that they focus on the extremes of your top strengths and worst weaknesses. And in doing this, they ignore your Proficiencies – the things you’re pretty good at and reasonably happy doing.
This approach is like ignoring a huge pot of gold in the middle of the cave, and going looking around the edges for diamonds. Sure, most people love a good diamond, but why not also get the gold while you’re there?
How can you tell what your Proficiencies are?
The best way to identify your Proficiencies is by using The Strengths Deck (why not pick up your very own set in the Shop today?)
If you want to get started and can’t wait for your cards to arrive, read on to find out about some other approaches.
Your Proficiencies are things you perform moderately well at, and have a moderate preference for using. They’re the things where you say “I’m good at this and happy enough doing it”.
Sure, they don’t get you springing out of bed in the morning – that comes from your Genius strengths. But they are the things that help you get stuff done, even on the hard days (or a Friday afternoon!). They are the workhorses of The Strengths Deck approach.
Questions to identify your proficiencies
To identify your proficiencies, ask yourself a few questions:
- What activities in your job and chores around home that never need to go onto your to-do list, because you always seem to get them done?
- Which tasks do you prioritise when you’re feeling a bit flat or lacking in energy?
- In what aspects of your work or home life can you hit your goals without it feeling like a big effort?
The benefits of playing to your Proficiencies
When you design your life and work to make the most of your Proficiencies, you create a launch pad from which you can springboard off into flow by using your Genius strengths. Flow is a high-intensity state, where you lose sense of time and space because you are completely immersed in what you are doing – and it’s associated with high rates of productivity, and high quality work. By weaving your Proficiencies into the foundation of what you do each day, you make it easier to bring your Genius strengths to life, which increases your chances of hitting flow.
When you design your Proficiencies into your work and life, you also build a soft landing pad for when you need time to recalibrate after the intensity of the flow state. Rather than having to stop work completely in order to rest and recharge, you can use your Proficiencies to deliver good performance without draining your physical or mental energy.
And remember how I referred to Proficiencies as the workhorses of The Strengths Deck approach? That’s because, while it’s great to be able to get into flow and deliver outstanding levels of performance, you can’t simply decide to get into a flow state for 2 hours from 10am on Wednesday. Sometimes the Muse is with you, sometimes she’s off helping someone else get into flow. If flow isn’t happening, you can turn to your Proficiencies to get through your workload, keep the boss happy, maintain your energy, and await the return of the Muse.