Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? That’s what they say. Although it’s often less about the ‘fun’ you are having, and more about how engaged you are in the activity. We’ve all had days at work that have dragged, for instance, and ones that have flown – and often the only difference is how focused you are on the task you are involved in. As with most things, it’s down to your psychology of engagement!.
As you can imagine I speak to and work with lots of small business owners and I see a lot of them struggling to generate leads. When I ask them why that is they have any number of excuses of why they are struggling, and when I say how are you doing with social media or networking they say it doesn’t work!! Can you imagine how MAD that is…. There is a market of people already assembled and these business owners won’t engage with this market. They go onto Twitter or join a Facebook business group and then just sit and watch what other people are doing! What is it that stops them engaging with the people already there??
I went to a concert with a friend of mine recently, (Before the lockdown!) he had come by the tickets by a happy accident when his brother and his wife realised they had double-booked themselves, and was thrilled because it had been a lifelong ambition to see that particular band live. However, when the day arrived he just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm for it; he’d found out the day before that he’d been passed over for the promotion he was expecting, plus his ex-girlfriend who was in the process of moving out had chosen this day to turn up and collect the rest of her stuff, which had resulted in a row.
Instead of applying a growth mindset, and seeing this as an opportunity to apply for a job he had always dreamed of, and get out of the lease he had been desperate to end, but hadn’t because it was close to his girlfriend’s place of employment, he just completely disengaged from the day.
The concert was amazing – the band was brilliant and the atmosphere electric, but he barely noticed. He just wasn’t in the mood. He wasn’t engaged in the experience. He wasn’t ‘feeling it’, as the kids might say!
Letting other things consume your mind and allowing it to affect the task at hand can be a lot more troubling when it comes to things less fun than a concert – such as work for example. If you are not fully engaged in what you are doing, other things will creep in – and not necessarily something as specific as an argument with a no-longer-significant other. It could be negative thoughts about your ability for example, thinking about your problems or your weaknesses, just ‘knowing’ that something’s going to go wrong or that you are going to fail: all these will distract from the task at hand.
Being engaged with your work will make you more productive, and the key to increasing engagement is to identify your character strengths. Applying these strengths, not just in business, but in any facet of your life, will allow you to appreciate yourself and feel satisfaction in what you are doing. It will help you to think more clearly and will increase motivation, passion, and in turn – success. But what are character strengths, and how can you identify yours?
All too often we focus on our weaknesses, and if you become too preoccupied with those it will block you from recognising your strengths. I’m not talking here about talents – I’m talking about personality traits such as determination, integrity, kindness. Such strengths can be acquired by anyone – it’s just a matter of choosing which strength to use and building it up.
For example, let’s say you know you are good at ‘getting things done’ – you’re not a great procrastinator; you’re always ticking off the last thing on your to do list, and your organisation skills are out of this world.
Focus your energy on that strength and build on it; make an effort to use that skill in as many ways as possible in your everyday life.
Focusing on your strengths is much more productive than becoming preoccupied with your weaknesses and will allow you to engage in whatever you are doing.
Of course, this is easy if you know what your strengths are, but maybe you can’t quite pin-point yours? Maybe you are good at quite a few things, and aren’t sure what you should focus on.
Here are some suggestions that might help you to find out what your strengths are.
● Talking To Others – All too often others notice things about ourselves that we aren’t even aware of, so talking to other people about what they think you are good at can be a great way to identify your strengths. Especially those who have worked with you, currently or in the past. If the same trait comes up over the course of speaking to a few people, you can be sure that it is considered a strength of yours.
● What Are You Proud Of? – Identifying the things in life you are most proud of could help you identify your strengths – as it is most likely going to be centred around something you are good at without you even realising it. That weekend sports team you coach that showcases your leadership skills, or that charity event that was a huge success and proves how exceptional your organisational skill are, for example.
● Do You Receive Compliments? – If there’s something you are constantly getting praise for, chances are it’s something you are good at! Enjoying all the plaudits for running that business workshop? Always the first person people come to when a function needs organising? Use those compliments to your advantage and apply those strengths that everyone is clamouring for in other areas of your life.
● What Makes You Happy? – People are often happiest when they are doing something they enjoy – and what do we enjoy most? Often the things we are good at. Does nothing make your heart sing more than when you are delegating tasks and watching something wonderful come together under your watchful eye? Maybe socialising is your forte, thanks to your likeable nature and skills as a ‘people person’ – in which case any task that involves networking of any kind will offer the perfect opportunity for you to showcase those strengths.
● What Comes Easily To You? – If you learn something quickly, or instantly take to something without it being too much of a challenge, then chances are it is because you are good at it, in other words, it is a strength of yours. Capitalise on this by implementing what you are good at in everyday life.
If you are running your own business then being engaged becomes essential rather than just important. A day when you’re not really ‘feeling it’, doesn’t just mean a bad day at work; it could mean not getting that repeat order, or that referral, or not making the most of the day’s networking opportunities. This is not to be confused with workaholism, which infects individuals with a sense of obligation to achieve.
These people are unable to disengage, which can eventually damage their wellbeing. By contrast those who are healthily engaged with work are dedicated and energetic as well as absorbed – mostly because that sense of engagement is because they enjoy their role, which will improve their wellbeing.
Again, this is where mindset can come in. Those who have a positive, optimistic outlook are much more likely to engage – and that is true in every area of life. People who view themselves positively and believe in their strengths also promote motivation and engagement in others – another benefit if you run a business that employs others.
That positive mindset will also mean that any problems or adversities seem manageable, if not unlikely, which will in turn keep you engaged – a circle of positivity if you will.
Try it today – transform a routine task by changing your mindset, identifying and implementing your strengths, and learn the joy of complete engagement.
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