What Do You Do For Fun? The Question I Hate Most

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When I was young, I asked my mother if she would buy me a guitar. I thought it would be great to learn to play. I imagined that if I could play the guitar, I would be very popular and have lots of girlfriends. When I asked my mother for a guitar, she quickly responded, "I will buy you a guitar if you learn to play the piano." She promptly signed me, and my two brothers, up for piano lessons. My brothers quickly started hating me, and for the next few years, I remember the demoralizing task of practicing the piano and going to piano lessons. Our piano teacher was not excited to see us every week because we were all, in a word, pathetic. I hated the piano, never learned to play the piano well, and as a result, I never got a guitar. I often think, “Maybe I could have been a rock star if only my mother would have bought me a guitar.”

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Tried to improve something where you had little energy, passion or excitement? Over a decade ago my colleague Jack Zenger and I discovered the value of having profound strengths. We found that doing something very well had a profound impact on how a person was perceived. Our research revealed that if a person could build just one strength, it almost doubled their overall perceived effectiveness. When you think about the process of doing something incredibly well, you realize that it takes more than just occasional practice. To be exceptionally good at something requires love, passion, and energy. Our formula for building strengths is to identify a competency where your performance is already reasonably good, that you are passionate about, and that the organization needs. We have found this formula works very well.

If a leader starts with a competency where their performance is at a reasonable level, they are closer to being exceptional than one where performance is poor. We also found that leaders are more willing to invest more effort, time and energy into improving a competency they care about than one they don’t. If they develop a skill the organization values, inevitably the organization will reward them for high performance.

Do People Know What They Love?

For most people, this seems like a foolish question. Of course, we know what we love and what we hate! But consider the question, "Do people know who they love?" Most everyone can identify mistakes they have made in loving someone who did not love them back or not loving someone who would have been the perfect companion. People think they may be better at knowing who they hate, but often we find that people we thought we hated, end up being some of our best friends.

We often find that people are not clear about their preferences for some skills over others. We developed a technique for assessing individual preferences for different skills after gathering data from over 800 leaders on their preferences for a variety of different skills. We then measured their performance on each of the skills. To effectively measure their performance, we asked others to evaluate their effectiveness rather than rely on self-reports. What we found was that a person's preference was significantly positively correlated with their performance. Those skills that a person preferred (e.g., they had a stronger passion for) were rated more positively by their manager, peers, direct reports, and others. Those skills where people showed little preference were rated more negatively by their manager, peers, direct reports, and others. While the correlations are not perfect, they are statistically significant.

That research confirmed what we intuitively knew: People tend to be more effective at those skills where they have a stronger preference. Often in life, this process of discovering our preferences is fairly random. We try a new sport, and for some reason, it just doesn’t seem to fit. We imagine we will like a particular job, but once we start doing it, it just feels like hard work. We are forced to do a job we thought we wouldn’t like, but we discover it's fun and fulfilling. Wouldn't it be helpful if people had a guide that revealed their strongest preferences?

Skills that Matter Most

There are hundreds of skills that could be measured and assessed. As we have researched different skills, we discovered that some had a far greater impact than others. Improving a low-impact skill would make very little difference in an individual's performance. Developing a high-impact skill could move performance as much as 30%. To discover those competencies that matter the most, we gathered data from 1,595,971 respondents on 122,767 leaders. We tested over 2,000 different behaviors to uncover the ones that were most differentiating of high and low performing leaders. The output of that analysis was the 25 competencies that have the most significant impact on a leader's performance. Improvement on any one of these competencies will provide a significant impact.

What does this research mean for you? Find your passion. Don’t hide it. Figure out the areas of your job that excite you and look for ways to develop them more. Passion makes a huge difference in your emotional well being and growing your career.

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When I was young, I asked my mother if she would buy me a guitar. I thought it would be great to learn to play. I imagined that if I could play the guitar, I would be very popular and have lots of girlfriends. When I asked my mother for a guitar, she quickly responded, "I will buy you a guitar if you learn to play the piano." She promptly signed me, and my two brothers, up for piano lessons. My brothers quickly started hating me, and for the next few years, I remember the demoralizing task of practicing the piano and going to piano lessons. Our piano teacher was not excited to see us every week because we were all, in a word, pathetic. I hated the piano, never learned to play the piano well, and as a result, I never got a guitar. I often think, “Maybe I could have been a rock star if only my mother would have bought me a guitar.”

Have you ever been in a similar situation? Tried to improve something where you had little energy, passion or excitement? Over a decade ago my colleague Jack Zenger and I discovered the value of having profound strengths. We found that doing something very well had a profound impact on how a person was perceived. Our research revealed that if a person could build just one strength, it almost doubled their overall perceived effectiveness. When you think about the process of doing something incredibly well, you realize that it takes more than just occasional practice. To be exceptionally good at something requires love, passion, and energy. Our formula for building strengths is to identify a competency where your performance is already reasonably good, that you are passionate about, and that the organization needs. We have found this formula works very well.

If a leader starts with a competency where their performance is at a reasonable level, they are closer to being exceptional than one where performance is poor. We also found that leaders are more willing to invest more effort, time and energy into improving a competency they care about than one they don’t. If they develop a skill the organization values, inevitably the organization will reward them for high performance.

Do People Know What They Love?

For most people, this seems like a foolish question. Of course, we know what we love and what we hate! But consider the question, "Do people know who they love?" Most everyone can identify mistakes they have made in loving someone who did not love them back or not loving someone who would have been the perfect companion. People think they may be better at knowing who they hate, but often we find that people we thought we hated, end up being some of our best friends.

We often find that people are not clear about their preferences for some skills over others. We developed a technique for assessing individual preferences for different skills after gathering data from over 800 leaders on their preferences for a variety of different skills. We then measured their performance on each of the skills. To effectively measure their performance, we asked others to evaluate their effectiveness rather than rely on self-reports. What we found was that a person's preference was significantly positively correlated with their performance. Those skills that a person preferred (e.g., they had a stronger passion for) were rated more positively by their manager, peers, direct reports, and others. Those skills where people showed little preference were rated more negatively by their manager, peers, direct reports, and others. While the correlations are not perfect, they are statistically significant.

That research confirmed what we intuitively knew: People tend to be more effective at those skills where they have a stronger preference. Often in life, this process of discovering our preferences is fairly random. We try a new sport, and for some reason, it just doesn’t seem to fit. We imagine we will like a particular job, but once we start doing it, it just feels like hard work. We are forced to do a job we thought we wouldn’t like, but we discover it's fun and fulfilling. Wouldn't it be helpful if people had a guide that revealed their strongest preferences?

Skills that Matter Most

There are hundreds of skills that could be measured and assessed. As we have researched different skills, we discovered that some had a far greater impact than others. Improving a low-impact skill would make very little difference in an individual's performance. Developing a high-impact skill could move performance as much as 30%. To discover those competencies that matter the most, we gathered data from 1,595,971 respondents on 122,767 leaders. We tested over 2,000 different behaviors to uncover the ones that were most differentiating of high and low performing leaders. The output of that analysis was the 25 competencies that have the most significant impact on a leader's performance. Improvement on any one of these competencies will provide a significant impact.

What does this research mean for you? Find your passion. Don’t hide it. Figure out the areas of your job that excite you and look for ways to develop them more. Passion makes a huge difference in your emotional well being and growing your career.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/joefolkman/2019/03/21/do-you-know-what-you-love-finding-passion-in-your-job/

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