Sun, 24 January 2021
Take The Path of Least Resistance To Save Time At Work
One of the best things that happen when you are aligned with your natural talents is that work ceases to feel like "work." This is that sweet spot where you accomplish your tasks feel like you're in a state of flow. This is when things on your to-do list energize you, rather than drain you.
Since the work is easier and the results are more excellent, you save time and precious energy at work.
It's totally different on the flip side when you work out of your weaknesses. You feel this inner resistance, which can lead to self-doubt and early exhaustion. As your energy dips, you feel like you have nothing to give. Which is not the truth, because you have it in you all along.
Here at Lead Through Strengths, we want you to drive towards what you want to have more of, such as work that gives a sense of meaning, while managing all other tasks at hand.
The more you use your strengths, the more you're able to offer your best to the world. But how exactly do you get more of what you want when your plate is already full of soul-sucking tasks, and for which you think there are no takers either?
Certainly, you don’t have to get stuck in this situation for long. So, listen up as Lisa Cummings and TyAnn Osborn put together and share great insights that will help you build a career centered on strengths that you love.
Here's their conversation.
Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room TyAnn Osborn.
Today, the topic is, you know, stuff that happens at work, that is, a little weird or awkward "things that make you go, hmm." And that thing…. it's a ridiculous call back to Arsenio Hall. It was way back. No really, it's those things that make you go hmmmm because you can't figure out how to quit making work feel so hard.
Lisa: What if that thing is, “Hey, Ty, why is my manager keep giving me all the tasks that I hate? Hmm.”
TyAnn: I think it's because they hate you.
Lisa: (eyes widen) Hmmm.
TyAnn: No, they don't hate you. That's what we're going to talk about today.
Lisa: But this is a real thing.
TyAnn: This does happen. This happens all the time.
Lisa: I actually have an uncle who said from his corporate experience (shout out to Alan) he said that if you are doing a task that you can't stand, but you're the one who does it the best in the office, he's like, “Well, the next time they need to get that thing done, who are they going to come to to get the thing done? You, the one who did it the best.”
Doing A Great Job? Best If It’s On Tasks That You Love
Lisa: So I do think this can happen because people get known for things that they don't even like, but they haven't worked on their career brand.
Lisa: They haven't talked to their manager about what they do like or hope for more of in their development. And I think that is one of the reasons you can be really good at something that you don't like. You're masterful because you keep getting it assigned to you.
TyAnn: Absolutely. This happens all the time. This has happened to you and me. This happens to our corporate clients all the time and in a very innocuous way. There's no diabolical plot behind this. And especially when you're more junior in your career, where you might not feel like you can say, “I don't really want to do this, or, I don't really like this.”
And so, here's what happens: Oftentimes, when you're smart, you can do a lot of things, and do it in a very proficient way. And actually, your product can be pretty good. And then guess what, because you did a pretty good job at that, next time, they have that horrible spreadsheet that needs to be done —
“You did a pretty good job so you're gonna get known as the horrible spreadsheet fixer.”
Lisa: And you don't want to be the one... I mean, if you're a hard worker...
Lisa: ...yet you don't want to be the whiner, complainer...
Lisa: The purpose of this episode isn't to say, we're going to empower you to go tell your leaders all of the things that you just don't like.
TyAnn: Yeah, don't don't do that. That’s not the takeaway from this section at all. That's a career-limiting move by the way.
Lisa: High-risk conversation.
Lisa: It would be less risky to figure out a way to describe the stuff you do want more of that you would like to grow into.
TyAnn: Yeah. So Lisa's got a great term that she uses about career crafting. She calls it "job shaping." So we're going to talk to you about how to lean your job more toward the things that you do like, and how maybe to get away from some of these legacy things, that kind of seems stuck to your shoe that you can't quite shake.
Lisa: Oooh, that's a good way to say it.
TyAnn: Or how to, how to avoid that thing you don't like. So, we'll give you some tips both ways. So how to lean more toward the stuff you want, and how to get out of this position of some stuff that you don't like.
Lisa: Yeah. And I mean, I think the simplest concept for the gum on your shoe, (that's a good one), is like, it starts to fade away from assignments if you continue to get known for the things that you *do* enjoy.
Lisa: I call this concept, “don't expect your managers to be mind readers."
Because it's easy to think, “They should know that that's a horrible thing, the horrible spreadsheet task, like they should know, I hate that. Why do the give the junk tasks to me? Yes, I might save time because it can turn into a mundane brainless task, but that's now how I want to save time at work.”
TyAnn: How would they know? And what do you...
Lisa: You call it something else, don't you? What do you call it?
TyAnn: I call it "the psychic method doesn't work." Even though we might try to prove this over and over? Yeah, so and here's the deal, too. We see the world through our own eyes, because that's the lenses we were given, right. And we tend to think, "everything I hate, everyone else hates." Or the opposite: "everything I like everyone else likes."
But that's not how the world works. And certainly in the strengths world we find there's all kinds of different things. So just because you like something or dislike something, somebody else has a completely different set of likes and dislikes. So if you secretly hate that thing you're working on, and you don't ever say anything, guess what? How would anybody know that?
Especially if you keep doing a really good job at it. And the other factor is that if you're working in your weakness zone, it's not going to be as intuitive. It's going to take you longer. The way to save time at work is to spend more of your time in your strengths zone.
TyAnn: And you never say anything. And then they're like, “Hey, Lisa, good job on that spreadsheet.” You're like, “Okay, thanks.”
Lisa: Hey thanks. Hey, I'm a hard worker. And I keep getting more of this stuff that I don't like. It feels soul-sucking and time consuming.
TyAnn: And think about this. What if you have a lot of Achiever and Responsibility in your top themes?
Lisa: I had it. I had a client, example, recently where she led through Responsibility. And she was on a big global project, all people in all time zones, and she thought it was really important to get people synched-up that someone would capture the initial conversation. This is basically a note taking thing.
Lisa: So she asked, “Who would like to volunteer?”
TyAnn: Okay, usually the answer is going to be, “no one.”
Lisa: That is pretty much what happened. Podcasts don't go well with me demonstrating the long cricket-silence she got in the meeting. But that's what happened. She asked, and all she heard was crickets.
Lisa: *no answer, *no answer.
TyAnn: She probably felt like she had to do it.
Lisa: She did. She leads through Responsibility. She can't let a ball drop. She was like, “I'll take it.” So she takes it. And she said she found herself time after time after time taking it and she was new to the company and new to the role and six months in, she said —
“Do you know my career brand here is I'm the team secretary?” Oh, and she feels like it was that one decision that led to the next one, to the next one, to the next one. And now that's how they see her. So now work feels slow and clunky. She drudges through it. She's dying to save time at work because she's bogged down in tasks she hates.
TyAnn: And now for her branding exercise, she has to undo all of that, which is a, you know, a much more difficult spin.
Lisa: Our career-memories are long.
TyAnn: Yeah. So that's going to be a whole ball of work just to undo just to get her back to neutral. Because then we have to replace all that with something else.
Lisa: Mm hmm. Yeah.
TyAnn: I mean, it can be done but that's just a harder way to go.
Lisa: I think that's actually a good one for the example of what you were talking about. Like there's the how, how do you unwind from what you don't like and then build into what you do like?
Lisa: But if instead, she starts really knocking it out on these other three things that are a big deal (the ones that are in her strengths-zone), then over time, it doesn't take that much time. She gets known for other (good) things and the draining things fade away into a distant memory.
Lisa: And that is a path that is much more doable.
(To TyAnn), give me another talent theme that she has besides Responsibility.
TyAnn: Okay, let's say she also has, um, Communication.
Lisa: Okay, so she also leads through Communication. And the team's doing a project where they need to roll it out to a bunch of end-users who aren't really going to love it. And it's going to take some real change management effort.
TyAnn: What clients don't always love what you have to roll out? Sometimes there's change management?
Lisa: And imagine how many people wouldn't like that? You know, I have to go out and convince a bunch of other people to do a thing, like most people go, “I don't want to do the dog and pony show. I just want to make the great thing.”
And then if you build it, they will come, right? No, you need people who lead through Communication, who can spark momentum and get other people excited about it, and communicate the benefits of it and get out there and spread the message and recruit other messengers. This kind of stuff that would be really fun to her would be loathsome to other people.
Lisa: So if she comes around now and says, “I just listened to this podcast. It got me thinking about things I'd like to grow into. I know we have this problem right ahead of us. If you see a part of that project, where I could contribute my Communication talent theme to to be the spark of momentum, I would love to help with that. So I just want to put it out there. If you see this opportunity, I hope you'll think of me.”
Lisa: Any manager would love to hear that.
TyAnn: They're probably, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much because I was cringing inside thinking how are we going to get all the engineers on board, or whatever it is. And hey, now that you've been working, you know, Pan Global, you've been, you know, all these people in all these different regions. You know, we can really tap into that.”
So what she didn't do was go around and whine about it. So I would say from personal experience, not the best approach. So she didn't put on her t-shirt, “Here's all the things I hate about my job.” Again, not the best approach. And she didn't go to her manager with an ultimatum, “If you don't give me this I'm gonna fight.” You know, be, “I'm gonna quit” or whatever. That's not also good.
What she did do is offer up something that she would like to be known for, she would like to lean into. And even in this case, she might not be saying “I have all this experience in this area.’ It sounded like she was saying, “I would like to get experienced in this.”
And now she's getting assigned work she loves. Those lovable tasks feel like they save time at work because they do - they're easier. They're your space to get in flow.
Sharing Your ‘Trash And Treasure’ List To The Team Could Fast-Track A Career You Love
TyAnn: So that means I'm going to be great at it. First, right out of the box, I might need to partner up with someone to try to offload some of the trash-tasks. But it's a great way for her to lean into something as opposed to just leading with, here's what I hate about my job, which would be great.
Here's what's funny: because here's this task now that she loathes, but there is someone else out there, I promise you, who would love the opportunity to do the thing that she hates. This is what's so hard for us. Remember, everything that we hate, we think everyone else hates too.
But there's someone else out there who maybe you know, funny enough, maybe they also have Communication, but theirs show up in a written form. Maybe they are not the extroverted person out there, in terms of extroverted catalytic change. Maybe they are, you know, they are more introverted. They like the details, they want to keep everybody abreast through this great written form.
It could be all kinds of things. But there's somebody else out there who would love this. And so a great, you know, really well-functioning team is able to talk about these things. You've got this great trash-to-treasure team activity, where again, it takes a little bit of vulnerability, but we can say, here are the top three things I love, or I'm looking forward to. Here are the things that I'm kind of ready to pass on to somebody else.
Lisa: I mean, look at that, like we, we love talking with each other. And we don't get to the actionable takeaway this fast usually. This is, this is great. That thing that you just described, where if you share it as a team….
Here's an example the other day. A guy goes, (I introduced trash and treasure sort of things, like, what are some things that you really enjoy?), and he said, “I really like escalation calls."
TyAnn: Which is funny, because a lot of other people are like, “Oh, my God, I would hate that.”
Lisa: They thought he added in the wrong column. And then and you know, you just get a lot of that. “Why? Why?”
Lisa: “What are you talking about?” Like, “surely he wrote that on the wrong side.” And he's like —
“I, I am a deep subject-matter expert. I love when there's a big challenge. It's gotten.... I don't love that customer services are flustered, but he's like, “I love that it's been too big and hairy for anyone to figure out, and I can come in and I know when they talk to me, it is over. Their frustration is done.” He said, “It's so satisfying to know that there is no escalation after me. It is always solved.”
Lisa: And that thing just made him feel so alive. And instantly, in that moment, people are like, “Can I give you mine? Can I give you mine? Can I give you mine?”
And he is like, “In fact, yes. If other things can get off my plate, yes, I would love it if my day were filled with that.”
Imagine. He feels more productive doing escalation calls. He didn't study a time management book. He didn't even have to apply the Getting Things Done (GTD) method. He saved time at work because he loved it and that is a responsibility that lights him on fire.
TyAnn: That's brilliant.
Lisa: Now, it's not always that clean and easy. I mean, you can't just be like, “Yes, let me give you my worst tasks ever.” For many on the team, that's their worst well ever. But it works. There are moments.
TyAnn: I love that like that. I love that. Or if we could find, usually there's somebody on the team who maybe highly Analytical or they have whatever skill, like the Excel skills, or the Microsoft Project skills. They love, you know, a good Gantt chart or whatever. Usually, there's somebody who, that’s their jam.
And someone else wants to poke their eye out if that's what they have to do. So wouldn't it be great if you could just shift a little bit so that, you know, “Hey, maybe I can't just unload this task? Maybe I'm still responsible for it but hey, Lisa, can I go to lunch with you? And you could just give this thing a once over and you know, make sure I'm on the right path?”
You know, and you're probably like, “That's awesome. Yes!” And I'll say I’ll buy your lunch. And you're like, “You don't even have to do that, I'm excited to help.”
TyAnn: I'm like, “Why would you be excited to help about this loathsome project?” But so you know, those kinds of things are easy ways you can ease into it, even if it's not possible for me to be like here at least. So you take it up.
Lisa: And I think you're bringing up a nuance that's important is that you don't just want your manager, the person you report to, to be the only one who knows what you want to grow into. Now, your teammates know new things about, you and you know things about them.
Maybe then you share with the leader like, “Oh, wow, he was so helpful to me in this way.” And now he's getting known for the thing that he likes.
Lisa: And he's getting more of it. And it really does have this virtuous..
TyAnn: ...virtuous cycle — my favorite thing about Significance, right. Uhhmm, share with each other, what is the thing you love best about your job because, in the words of my friend, Lisa, notice what works to get more of what works. And so if I don't know what works for you, I can't ever help you get more of that.
TyAnn: And I can't ever point out because if I keep pointing out your spreadsheet looks really good, and you're like, “Oh my god, I hate that thing. I am going to go to my grave and have that spreadsheet etched on my tombstone.” And you never want to say, “Ah, I'd really like to do this other thing.”
So again, coming back to the idea that your manager doesn’t automatically know what you want, and the psychic method doesn't work, and it doesn't work for your teammates, either.
This is where I think being vulnerable, having that psychological safety, and I think also having that concept of, “just because I don't say, just because I don't love something doesn't mean I'm saying, “I hate this. I'm not going to do it.”
Or, “I'm going to do it poorly.” Because again, I don't get to run my unicorn work. I don't only get to do the things I want to do all day long. I'm going to approach my work and always do everything with as much integrity as I can. But there are some things I would like to do more of, and probably have more of an act to do.
Attract Opportunities By Striking A Conversation About Your ‘How’ Skills
Lisa: Yay. Good luck on that, Ty. And don't make your take away, the refusal of the job...
TyAnn: Don't do that.
Lisa: ...or the excuse to get out of work or...
TyAnn: Don't do that. But as you know, as we tell children, you got to use your words. So you've got to put it out there. Whether you call it the secret, or the universe, or using your words, you've got to put out there what you're hoping to do more of.
Lisa: Oh, and you have to first decide what you want more of. If you're going to save time at work by doing work that puts you in flow, you have to reflect enough to know what responsibilities put you in the flow state.
Lisa: Strengths, reading the book StrengthsFinder, doing the CliftonStrengths assessment, these are all helpful things if you've never even thought of, “Oh, it's not just that I would like more of this skill,
Lisa: … but also, how I interact with people. Or like, in the Communication example, that was more of a ‘how’, not a ‘what’ skill thing” and...
Lisa: ...like, “Oh, I like to build momentum. Aha, I can ask my manager for things that require momentum building, that's not something that they've probably ever thought of using, as an assignment criteria.” And now they have a whole new realm of things to offer you instead of like that one specific job that you were hoping to move into next.
TyAnn: I think that's actually a really good point because if you just look at, you know, let me find the magic job title, well, I'll just tell you, that's going to be a long hard search. Because that often doesn't exist. But these “how” skills exist in a lot of places that you might not even realize, right? But that's where you can, the more you put out there what you want, the more other people will start to help you and say —
“You know, there's actually the thing you didn't even know, but they could use you on that project team.” Like I didn't even know that was a thing.
And then, you know. But again, if you just sit there at your cube, or now you know, at your home office, hoping that the magical assignment comes your way and bluebirds into your, to your window, you're going to be sitting there a long time. So you can, you can have a little bit more control in your life when you do the right thing(?)
Lisa: Yeah. So if we bring this all together, I would say one action is, you want to have a conversation with the person that you report to.
Lisa: And and try to find a way to express, “Here's this thing I would love to grow into. And I would love it, if you would think of me next time you're considering assignments that relate to x, and if you use those “how” skills.
TyAnn: Absolutely. And by the way, it's perfectly legitimate feedback for your manager to say, “Okay, I hear you saying that, but you know what, you don't have any of those skills today.” That might happen. And then you can have a conversation about, “Okay, how might I be positioned to get those skills? What would a path look like for that?”
Lisa : Yeah.
TyAnn: That is completely legitimate.
TyAnn: Or for you to look up in the organization somewhere, and then just go talk to someone and say, “how did you get here?” How, and, you know, that's what, I kind of interview internal people all the time. Have, you know, and just have kind of an informational one-on-one.
By the way, people love to talk about themselves, little tip, and people will meet with you all day long, for 30 minutes, just to tell you their story.
And so that's where real growth happens. So I love that. So talk to your manager. Again, second method doesn't work there. So that's the first tip, communication.
Lisa: I'd say, volunteering the talent out. So let's say for example, you lead through Learner and Input. And now your company is implementing Microsoft Teams, but no one knows how to use it, and they're resisting it. And you're like, “we're gonna have to get down with this program, because it's going to be the way of the world. Microsoft is embedded in everything we do, we need to figure it out.”
And so you decide, “I'm going to turn on my Learner and Input. I'm going to find all the cool features and things that could make life easier for teammates and then I'm going to share it with teammates.
So then you get an opportunity to get known for what you want more of because you've decided, “I'm going to do it anyway. I can tell it we'll have to figure it out. I'm going to turn on my Learner and Input which would be fun for me because those are in my top five. And then I'm going to use those, volunteer them out beyond myself to help the team."
By virtue of volunteering it out, you can see where using the talent makes you feel more productive and efficient. It's an experimenting process. It is a process, yet the compounding effect can save you a lot of time at work over the course of months or years. In fact, the job itself can be totally different as a byproduct of these experiments.
If the team does StrengthsFinder as a team thing, then they know the words Learner and Input and you're able to say, “Okay, you know, Learner and Input. I nerded out on this. So I thought you might find this helpful, here are all the things that I've picked up.” And you give them the tip sheet.
TyAnn: I love that. I mean, that's so cool. You've made yourself the super user. You've... and it's not just about you, you've created, you know, you've positioned yourself in a way of service to other people.
So by the way, anytime you're helpful to other people, they tend to want to come back to you to get more help, which is great, because you've, you know, you're killing kind of two birds with one stone, this is great. They're gonna be like, -
“Oh, that you did such a great job that last time we had this thing. Now we've got to have this. You know, we're gonna put this in Slack. Nobody here knows anything about it. Can you help us with that?”
And yeah, you would be the person. So I love that. It's volunteering your talent, not again, sitting at your desk quietly with your head down, waiting for someone to come tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, Lisa, I know you're a high Learner Input. So I was thinking maybe here's an opportunity, you could, you could do.”
That, that's rarely going to happen. It's rarely going to happen. So you have to really keep your eye on the landscape and think, “How could I apply my top themes to what's going on here?” So...
Lisa: Those are big.
TyAnn: I know.
Lisa: Okay. I have a third one, which would be, listen for what people kvetch and complain about.
Lisa: Not to join it?
Lisa: Again, more career limiting.
TyAnn: Yeah, don't do that.
Lisa: But if you listen, you can hear like when Ty was explaining the spreadsheet with doing the VLOOKUPs. She was good at them but when she remembers this role that she had where she had to spend all day in the spreadsheet doing Vlookups, her nose crinkles up when she says “Vlookup” like there's an uhm!
TyAnn: Yeah, there's a physical response when you don't like something. You're basically or even your body might hunch down a little bit.
Lisa: Yeah. So watch for that because let's say I were the teammate, I lead through Analytical and Deliberative and I love slicing and dicing data and living in Excel put me in Excel all day long as my favorite job, when I see her react that way, if I'm listening to other people's responses, both tuning in...
Lisa: ...even just to watch, but I'm watching, “Oh, saw your reaction in the Vlookup there.”
TyAnn: ‘Saw the nose crinkle.
Lisa: “Not your BFF, huh?” She's like, “NO!” And then I go, “Ah, I start to get ideas. I could, I could take that on for you. And maybe you could swap something out with me. Or maybe I could give you a shortcut template or something like that, where I'm just volunteering it out.”
She's thinking, yeah Vlookups are slow and cumbersome and awful. Meanwhile you're thinking that Vlookups are such a great way to save time at work and get really efficient.
But beyond watch for things you could swap with others. And when you see others kvetching and complaining, you're often able to see —
“Oh, that thing that I like, not everybody likes that.”
“Oh, that thing that I'm good at, not everyone else is good at it.”
TyAnn: Right. I think that's huge. And just thinking about that person with a spreadsheet, you know, maybe there's a meeting they have to go to every week where they have to report out on that spreadsheet. And that meeting causes them no end of angst. They get the pit in the tummy feeling, they get the flop sweat, they go in and even though they know it front and back, they can't communicate that to save their lives.
TyAnn: And it's miserable for everybody. And you're like, “I could talk to those people cold.”
Lisa: That is perfect.
TyAnn: You're like, “How about I, you do the back end, I'll do the front end and together we are the Ty and Lisa show? Only if it was the two of us. There really wouldn't be a back end, we would only be to the front.
Lisa: We’re going, “To the back. To the back. To the front. To the front.” It would be stuck — a skipping record. “To the front. To the front. To the front”
TyAnn: We need to have a team. We would need Deena a lot with this, to help, to help round us out. Um, yeah. So again, the psychic method doesn't work. So you got to have that, those conversations, and I think that will really serve me well.
Lisa: Yeah. So let us know, how did your conversation go? How did you bring it up?
Lisa: And when you were thinking of the talents that you're trying to lead into, how did you phrase it with your manager. This is a scripting thing that I find a lot of people get stuck on. And that's why I like to give that thing where it's like, -
“Hey, I've been thinking about what I want to grow into next.” Or even using this podcast because at least it's less awkward to say, “Hey, I was listening to this podcast. I was trying to learn more about being awesome at work," you know, in something that makes you sound like you're continuing to grow.
Lisa: “I've been putting a lot of thought into this and it gave me this idea.” And then you can offer it out.
TyAnn: And then let us know and we'll talk about it. Let us know if you tried it and it doesn't work either. We'll come up with something else for you. There's more than one way here.
Lisa: We can have the failure recapture. “Okay, here's a scripting idea that doesn't work. Don't try this because this goes back into that high-risk category that sits right along what...
TyAnn: Lisa and I laugh about this because we have tried a whole bunch of things that haven't worked before. So we, you know, we can, we're right there with you on that. We can help prevent you from having those same experiences.
Lisa: Yes. And although my stint in HR was very, very short, yours was much more significant. And the time that we got to spend with leaders saying, “All right, fire me.”
Like, “We’re doing the roleplay. It's going to be an awkward conversation. I am now the person.” And then getting them to go through….
Scripting things out is tough. And there are so many hard conversations in the workplace. So even these when you're, you're trying to talk about yourself without sounding braggadocious.
Lisa: That's tough too.
Lisa: And it's not even awkward, and you're not telling someone they're about to…
Lisa: ...lose their job or be on a performance improvement plan. It's just simply like, “how do I describe something that I might be good at without sounding like an arrogant jerk?
TyAnn: Like a braggy jerk. So it's fine. We, again, it feels a little uncomfortable, because we don't have these conversations all the time. So that's where you're just, you know, you can get a little index card and just literally write this out. And then kind of practice in a mirror saying this. You can practice with a friend. You can call a spirit guide to help you out.
And the more you do it, the easier it will become. And again, we're not trying at all for you to say, “here's the list of things I'm not going to do.” This is just how can you lean your career, how can you steer it a little bit more toward the things that bring you energy, and a little bit less towards the soul sucker parts of the job.
Lisa: Yeah. And if you do decide that you want to do this as a team exercise, where you're talking about it and you want a facilitator, Ty would be a great one for this. She can come into your organization and walk you through that trash and treasure exercise.
She's great at helping you figure out what fills you up - even a personal branding exercise for each person on the team.
We have one where you walk away with three words that describe how you would love to be known and describe how you want to show up in the organization so that you can actually take the time to reflect because it's hard to carve the time out, and then your teammates can know how you want to be known, and your manager.
TyAnn: That's a cool exercise too, by the way. People feel really good about that.
Lisa: Yeah. And it feels so good to hear them about each other.
TyAnn: Yeah. Very affirming.
Lisa: And it takes away that...
TyAnn: Very affirming. I love that one.
Lisa: Yeah because you're not being awkward or arrogant when some facilitators ask you to do the exercise.
TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely.
TyAnn: So give us a ring. Let us know what works for you and if you need help on this process.
Lisa: All right. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now.
More Relevant Resources To Support Your Strengths-Focused Career Growth
The previous discussion on strengths as easy buttons for better performance truly supports today’s episode. You turn on your "easy buttons" when you go for tasks or projects that you find enjoyable and energizing. This leads to a better and well-recognized performance at work.
But going more for these tasks that you love also means ensuring you don’t end up sounding braggy. Not all people around you might respond well to it. Here’s Lead Through Strengths Facilitator Strother Gaines sharing tips on how to not sound arrogant when building a career around your strengths, so you can review your script before you talk to others about yourself.
If you’re a team manager, you can help and guide your team members realize their full potential in whatever roles they express to lean more into by assessing their top strengths, along with their trash and treasure list. Revisit Lisa’s interview with Adam Seaman to pick up more tips.
Sun, 10 January 2021
If You're Not Feeling Very Worky Today, Your Feeling Is Valid
If you woke up not feeling very worky today, you're not alone. All around the world, this happens for reasons that are either obvious or hard to dig.
Being in a funk is a real struggle that can last from days to months and can impact many important decisions that you make. It happens in the workplace and beyond.
Being in this situation may lead you to deliberate whether to stay in a job or not, to stay in a relationship or not, to adopt a certain lifestyle or not, and so on. This feeling is valid, but when it does happen, do you usually deal with it from a place of fear, or from a place of strength?
In another fun and insightful episode, host Lisa Cummings and fellow StrengthsFinder facilitator TyAnn Osborn share their personal and professional take on what it means to be in a funk, and effective ways to turn that "funky monkey" situation around. (Expect some hints of Beastie Boys along the way too.)
Here’s their conversation.
Lisa: You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings. And you know, I'm always telling you, it's hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Well, something that's just about as energizing is when I get to hang out with my other host here in the room, TyAnn Osborn.
Today, we are going to talk about being in a funk. So very often, we go to strengths events, we get invited in to deliver training, and often it's from an inspirational standpoint. We want to get to know each other better, we want to communicate better, we want to get to know a new team...
Lisa: Team building...
TyAnn: Very positive. Very fun.
Lisa: And then the reality of the world is we have days when mojo meter is level zero. We have seasons, times, months, weeks, where sometimes you're just in a funk. Once, I had an entire, probably six months of a job where I was in a funk and I was like, “What is wrong with me? I like the people, I like the job, the pay is good. Life is good. Everything on paper sounds so right. What is wrong?"
And almost never do people think, “Well, this would be a great opportunity to use my strengths!” It just doesn't come up for people. But I know that you have ideas for this, and you've talked about them being one of the best things you could do for yourself when you find yourself in a funk or you think someone else might be in a funk.
Step 1: Acknowledge When You’re Feeling Funky
Lisa: So, if you are going to even begin applying strengths to this concept, what would you start with?
TyAnn: I think that's so true. And like Lisa said, often when we come in, we've done a big team building event, everyone's all jazzed up, this is exciting. And then you go back to your desk, and work happens. Or life happens. And you're like, “Oh, that was fun.”
But meanwhile, Now my customer is upset with me. My kid’s upset with me... My spouse is upset with me... I have to make dinner... Whatever it is, and life just happens.
Or, like she said, sometimes you can't really put your finger on it. And for whatever reason, you're just like, “Oh, I feel like a funky monkey, I don't know why.” That sounds more cute than you might actually be feeling.
Lisa: Sounds like Brass Monkey. Makes me think of Beastie Boys.
TyAnn: ‘Love Beastie Boys. Yes, that's my jam.
TyAnn: So I think it's really easy to use strengths when things are going well. But I think really a powerful application is when you're not feeling that great. And so what do you do?
So I would say the first thing is, be able to recognize when you are feeling funky. And sometimes we don't want to intellectually allow ourselves to even go there. Or like you said, “I shouldn't be feeling bad about myself. I'm getting paid good money!"
Lisa: "My thinking skills tell me that does not make sense and therefore I must feel great!"
TyAnn: "This must be a first world problem because look at me, I have a job and on paper, everything looks fine... I'm not hungry. I'm able to feed myself, I'm able to provide for my family..." And whatever.
And here's the deal.
Lisa: "You just feel like you're being a baby!"
TyAnn: "You feel like you're being a baby." And again, you might say like, "Oh, this is a first world problem."
But here's the deal: feelings are valid, because they're your feelings. And if you're feeling funky, you don't have to explain that away to yourself. It's okay. It's okay. I mean, nobody can discount your feelings because they're your feelings. It's okay.
So I would say the first thing is just to put that baggage aside for “I shouldn't be feeling this way,” because that's the quickest way to really start some problems internally.
Lisa: Let's break that piece down, like you're saying, Step 1 is to figure out that you're feeling like a funky monkey. And then what actually is it.
Well, if our client base is representative of many more people in corporate, which I think they are, like, if you're feeling wimpy about it, or feeling like you're being a baby, it's easy to want to discard it, push past it pretty quickly, or to not really spend any time going, what is it actually?
Lisa: When I ask people, “What do you think you're really feeling about the situation?” And people will be like, “Well, I'm anxious about it, it's stressing me out.” Those are the two... I think they're the easy words: stressed, anxious.
Lisa: I know you can tell me if you hear others are saying like anything past it.
TyAnn: They're socially acceptable to say. You know, what is not socially acceptable, is to say I'm scared. And usually, if someone's angry about something, almost always fear is underneath that.
And anxiety? Fear is almost always underneath that. And so when you peel it back, you're like —
And so you can kind of follow this line of thinking.
And we tend to have an irrational fear. And sometimes I call it like the “bag lady” fear — that you're going to end up as a bag lady sort of pushing the shopping cart living under the overpass.
Lisa: This is a real fear.
TyAnn: This is a real fear.
Lisa: I had a situation where I took a wrong job. I took a job that was a bad fit for me.
TyAnn: By the way, this happens all the time. I have also done this.
Lisa: Yes, and you've also written blog entries about the Mondays, the case of the Mondays that you get.
TyAnn: That's right. This happens.
Lisa: Yes, this happens. So when I picked that role, and I thought, “I think that the answer is to leave.” But then there was so much baggage hanging on to the leaving.
So I was in a funk because I got myself stuck in a thought circle. And we actually went through a process, kind of like what you described.
"What is the worst that could happen there? And then what would happen there? And then what would happen there?"
So I just played it out off of quitting.
And what would happen? "Oh, well I just, I would disappoint people because I put them through an interview process. How could I do that to them? They went through this whole thing. They picked me!"
TyAnn: They would be mad at you.
Lisa: Yes! I didn't want to be viewed unfavorably. I didn't want them to be angry with me. But also, I didn't want to be a jerk to them. I thought what if I'm not giving it enough time?
TyAnn: Hmm. What if you're a quitter?
Lisa: What if I'm a quitter? What if I'm a poor decision maker?
TyAnn: [7:05] ***You're branded with the scarlet Q that you'd have around for the rest of your life.***
Lisa: Yeah. I mean, these are things. And then it was...
Okay, and then what? Let's say I quit.
Well, normally, I'm a planner. I think ahead. I think far ahead. I would have been deciding what I am going to do next. And then I would get myself lined up for it. And then I would have it all lined up, and I would have an acceleration lane all planned up. I didn't have any of that. So this would be all new territory. I decided, well, this would be a good time to start a business. Not this business but it was a different one.
But I was like — okay, what if I don't get any customers? What if I have no revenue? What if I…
TyAnn: And now I have to make a business plan. And now that's a huge project.
Lisa: Yeah. And I was like, “Oh, we had just purchased this land that we wanted, that was the forever plan. What if I ruin, what if I single-handedly ruin the forever plan because I took one wrong job?”
TyAnn: Oh, that's a lot of pressure.
Lisa: But you know, even when you go through the worst, when I realized I was really just being a chicken, and that the worst that could happen...you know what we came to when we stayed up really late that night, just talking about, “No, seriously, what is the worst?”
TyAnn: What was it?
Lisa: We were going to live on an RV and be camp hosts in a lovely State Park, and it was like, “Oh, this is okay.”
TyAnn: Which by the way, I have not one but multiple friends who are doing that right now.
Lisa: On purpose?
TyAnn: That is their dream.
TyAnn: Yeah. Like that's the thing.
Lisa: Yeah. And at the time, it was just like, “Well, we had an RV. So we literally wasn't something to purchase. It was just like we take the thing that we have while we lost the house, because remember, I lost the whole dream farm. We lost the farm.
TyAnn: It burned. It burned up overnight.
Lisa: Yeah. I brought it crashing down in flames. And then it was right there.
Lisa: So the answer was there. I'm not saying it made it unscary, but that was a funk breaker. So I know it was a bit of a long story to support your point, but I was in a funk — because I was stuck in a decision.
TyAnn: You were afraid.
TyAnn: It was fear.
TyAnn: But you knew the right thing to do.
Lisa: I guess so.
TyAnn: You wanted to leave.
TyAnn: You were just afraid.
Lisa: But we fire ourselves on that often. I know. I do. And I know that a lot of customers do... And many smaller things because, well, you know, we work with plenty of people who are not in a funk because they're making self-actualizing giant life decisions. That does happen as well.
You know who you are. If you're listening to the show and you stayed after one of the sessions, and we’re like...
TyAnn: Right...which we love by the way.
Lisa: Oh my God, this made me realize...
TyAnn: I made the complete wrong job.
Lisa: But also it happens in the everyday mundane.
TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely.
Identifying The Root Of The Funky Feeling Is Not Magic But A Process
TyAnn: I hear this a lot. And believe me, this is kind of what keeps coaches in business, is working with people who kind of get to even like the 40, 50-plus category who are like:
“You know what? I've worked all this time, and I've sort of made it. I've gotten to wherever it was in the career in the company. I've gotten to whatever level job that I thought was the place I wanted to be, and kind of, is this all there is?”
Or like, “I thought somehow I would be riding my unicorn to work and playing with puppies all day. And you know what? I don't. I don't like it. I don't like what I do... I don't really like who I've become.”
Or, “My kid drew a picture of the family and I'm not in it.” What we've heard from a colleague of ours... Or something else happens.
This is why people have a midlife crisis or a complete breakdown. Talk about a funk. And that's something where you know that there's that little voice whispering in you, of discontent, and you have shoved it down. And you know, when you push that bad boy down, just like feelings, it is like your jack-in-the-box analogy — that thing will shoot out in a very ugly and untimely way.
Lisa: That's true. And you know, it's like, once you've been shoving it down, long enough people know. And you're like, I have the pit in my stomach. I know it's off, but I don't know what is off. I can't put my finger on it.
Lisa: And then boom, Jack in the box jumps out.
TyAnn: Or people feel scared because “I have set up my life now where now I have the big house, or I'm supporting my whole family.” Or I mean, whatever it is. And we kind of make it bigger in our head sometimes.
Lisa: Oh, I had one of those recently in a Strengths session. She said, she called it her "big kid bills." And she was like, “I have the house, I have the car, I have the stuff, I have everything. And I've got my mind all wrapped up in keeping with the Joneses.”
And she's like, “All I want to do is just go buy a Honda Accord and live in a one-bedroom apartment and unravel it all. And I can't even do that.”
TyAnn: So like, “more money, more problems.” And I mean that's why I think there's such a pull right now for downsizing, for minimalism, for “let's chuck it all and go live in that RV and go be the camp host...”
And there's a huge movement for that right now. I mean, even in the design world, there's you know, “Minimalism is in!" Not "Rococo is in.” You know what I mean?
Lisa: I don't even know what that is.
TyAnn: "The heavily layered look is out!"
So you see this, there's a real pull and desire for that. And so it's real. It's a thing and it's okay to just sit back and think, “I've worked and maybe I've been the one pushing this, and I feel funky. I don’t know if I want this.”
Lisa: Okay, so I'm your client. We've been talking Strengths.
Lisa: I do the CliftonStrengths assessment. I am in fact, in a funk and I did do my assessment. I know my top strengths. I think I'm gonna talk to Ty as my coach. So I'm going to start to open up to the concept and kind of like, talk through what's going on, so I can figure it out because I can't put my thumb on what is making the funky monkey situation happen.
Lisa: So what do you do, like if you're in a corporate office, you know, most of our customers are, and they're like living through the funk, and they've acknowledged the funk isn't gonna go away in a one conversation sort of thing. This isn't a magic dust...
TyAnn: And I wish it was. I would charge a lot more.
Lisa: No kidding!
Poof! Life is amazing!
TyAnn: For $20,000, I will solve your funkiness!
Lisa: 1 hour!
Yeah, sadly, a little bit more of a process.
Lisa: So I know like in one podcast episode, we can't end it and say, “And here…”
TyAnn: Here's your 30-second easy answer.
Lisa: It will be jerky if I'm like, “Go pay Ty $20,000 so she can get you the answer.” That's not the most fun.
TyAnn: But there are some things you can do, for sure.
So getting a coach is a great one. But what else, like what actions can people take away when they're living through the funk, they're in the middle of it, and they're getting to the other side?
Look Up To A Coach Or Your Strengths Report As Your 'Spirit Guide'
TyAnn: So one thing you said, getting a coach.
So I would say absolutely. I'm a huge fan of that, not just because I'm a coach, but because I believe it works. So if your company supports that, awesome!
But if they don't, see if you can reach out to a trusted person, because often when you're in it, it can be really hard to see. You know what I mean?
So it can be helpful to have spirit guides — somebody to walk beside you on that. So that's a) if you can, you know, put your hand up, and that takes being a little bit vulnerable. But it's okay to just say, “You know what, I gotta get some help here."
Because there's no prize for doing that hard and by yourself. Just a little clue to life here.
And something too that when you can pull out your Strengths — and again, I realized when you're feeling funky, you might not be thinking Strengths, I mean, that might not be it — but I encourage you, like reach back in your desk and pull up that report. And there's going to be a piece in there about Brings & Needs, that I really like.
And you know, often when you first read it, you kind of blow through some of that. But oftentimes, when we're feeling funky, it's because we have a need that's not being met.
And each one of our strengths themes has a really specific thing that we need in order to feel fulfilled in that way.
And so almost invariably, when I find myself in a funk, I can go back and like literally put my finger on the thing that I am not getting.
And it is illuminating to be able to give language or a word to, “Oh my gosh, I thought it was just me. I am not getting this. This is what I need.”
And life isn't about putting your needs on a shelf and doing it, again, the hard way. You are at your best and the world needs the best of you, not the most mediocre funky version of you. That's not helpful to anyone. Does that make sense?
Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. And if they have the full 34 report, the version that you get the lesser themes at the bottom, you might look at the bottom 5 to 7. And you might notice, if you don't think of these as weaknesses, you think of these as potential energy drainers. Well, you look at that list. And you might think, “Oh right, look at that one. It's number 33 of 34. And I'm using that all day, every day. It's taking a lot of me to give it.”
Lisa: Because you can be totally competent in those areas. By the way, if you're new to Strengths, it can be at the bottom of your list in the stack rank of 34. You can get competent, you can do the thing, but it's sucking it all out of you and you're empty by giving it.
Lisa: And it can really make you feel funky if you're having to do that over time.
TyAnn: Absolutely. And you know, Gallup’s got these engagement metrics that we talk about with our clients. And you know, the data shows that people who are able to use their strengths during the day — six times as likely to be engaged, three times as likely to have a better quality of life.
And as I tell my clients, this doesn't mean I only get to work on fun stuff all day long, that really, you know, it is the Ty land. That's not life.
But what the research behind this shows is that something in my day brings me energy. And because it does, it lifts me up enough so that then I can get through that noise and deal with some of that stuff that might be pulling on my themes that are at the bottom of my stack. Does that make sense?
Lisa: Yeah. So gas in the tank. It gets you back up there so you can get through the day doing things that you're paid to do even if you don't like those things.
TyAnn: That's just it. Because sometimes clients are like, “Oh, well, this means I don't have to do those other parts of my job I don't like.”
I'm like, “Yeah, no, it's still work.”
Now if 100% of your job you don't like, that's not something. But there needs to be something every day that kind of fills your tank, and then you can get through that other stuff. But I think that's where you can start to kind of put some analysis around the funk and then say, “Oh, my gosh, I didn't realize 75% of my job is doing that thing that takes so much energy. I can do it because I'm smart, I'm competent, I mean, I got to this point, I can do it. I just don't want it to take so much of my energy."
And then, "Frankly, I don't even have enough energy left to do the things that do excite me." Which then, that becomes sad, you know.
I don't even have enough energy to play the drums. Or, I found this happening with me. I love to read, that's kind of my thing. I found if I get in a funk, I'll stop reading. And that's when I've noticed that, man something's really wrong with me. Because I love to read. So if I don't have enough energy to read...
Lisa: Okay, you know, we're into these analog tools in the list, this would be a good list like, "Can you remember back to times when you were in a funk and what might the signs be?”
And some things like that. You stop reading. I might skip my drum practice for the day I notice. I let myself get a little disorganized, like if my trash starts to overflow because I'm Mrs. Cleanly, I'm Mrs. Tidy is basically me, so I noticed... Oh, if a couple of little signs, like my fingernails are very chipped and my trash is overflowing and I'm playing Tetris waiting for it to fall out — I know, I'm not in my normal game.
TyAnn: Isn't that interesting?
TyAnn: So kind of know that about yourself, like what are these little signs, little guideposts along the way so that you can pay attention to those before you get to sort of the edge of the cliff, and you've fallen off.
Unleash Your Best You — The World Needs It
Lisa: Okay, this is good.
So we have to-dos for them. Okay, we've got lists to make....
One thing I love about your style in this regard is, well, depth, obviously. You get corporate, you get people's busy lives, but you're both empathetic and tough at the same time — not empathy in the Gallup sense of the word, but like, you feel the person for how they need to be seen and heard and appreciated in the moment.
But then you can also tell the truth. You're not afraid of...
TyAnn: I definitely have huge compassion for people because — especially with the clients we work with — I've been there.
You know, we've had these jobs. I have had the job where I felt like I had to be on 24/7. I've had the ex-pat job where I literally felt like I was on 24/7 because I had a whole job on the other side of the world, and just when that job was ending, the US was coming online. I've had the job where I got 300 emails a day. I've had the job where you go into the Ops review, and you have to prepare a 75-page deck that you get yelled at about. I mean, we've lived this, right?
TyAnn: I've been in a place where you get promoted to a position that you're like, “I don't want this. I don't want my boss's job. I don't want any of these jobs.”
Lisa: “Why did I do this?”
TyAnn: “Why did I do this?” But you know what, I've also had things that are great. And I'm just saying, life can be awesome. And you have tremendous and powerful skills. And we just want to harness those so that we can unleash the best of you in the world — because that's what the world needs.
Lisa: Yeah. Okay, that is a perfect end to this. One thing I am going to put in the show notes for you is a link to http://leadthroughstrengths.com/negative. There's one called /positive and there's one /negative. And it's a list of emotions. It's like an inventory of emotions.
And so if one of your takeaways is coaching — great, bring on Ty.
If you are more like, “Hey, I just need to DIY this right now, and I'm going to go back to the very beginning of this episode and do that thing where I'm trying to figure out beyond saying I'm stressed or anxious, what's going on with me with this funk... That list, it just gives you a whole different set of words to say —
"Oh, yeah, I think I'm just angry about this thing that got switched up on me at work. And I've just had the bee in my bonnet for a while, using an old saying, and now that put me into a funk.”
So that will be a good resource as well, if you have trouble naming it.
And remember Ty’s wisdom, I will call it, which is — you don't have to look at these emotions and name these emotions so that you can go tell your boss you're feeling it. This is actually you just doing it so you can understand what is making the funk. Right?
TyAnn: Yeah, absolutely. And it could be, I mean, I've seen this before, you could be mad because you're not getting recognized, you know. You're mad, you worked on that project and somebody else got the credit for it. You know, all these things. And you might think, “I can't say that out loud, because that sounds really petty.” You know, then someone's going to be like...
But that's a valid feeling. That's totally valid.
So I love that lists can help spark that for you. So write that stuff down so you can help in your mind...just get kind of granular on what specifically is it that's causing the funk. Because once we know, and we can drill into that, then we can help start building bridges to get over the funk.
Lisa: Yeah. And you layer that with what you described about going back through your report and reading the needs. And if you have the full report, looking at the very bottom, so you might see something that is a soul sucker for you that you didn't know.
You have a pretty good inventory either of, “Oh, I've got my early warning signs”, or, “Oh, I've figured out what might have spurred this.” Like that moment where you didn't get recognized, maybe you're annoyed for about 30 seconds, and then you're like, “Yeah, [24:33] ***I'm a grown-up*** so I'm over it.” And then you move on — but you didn't get over it.
Lisa: You just told yourself you did.
TyAnn: Right. Or maybe that's like the 5th time that that's happened in this job, and it's just like, it's like your bee in your bonnet. It doesn't go away. It's there. And then every time that happens again, it's just that confirmation that's like see, this is in here.
And maybe one of your themes is Significance, and maybe yours needs to be recognized. And so that's a really good starting point to think... What's going on here? How can I put more Venn in this diagram than these things that are totally opposite? So I think that's just a great place to start.
Lisa: It is.
And speaking of starts, we're stopping. [Laughs] So even though we're at the end of the episode, you know we always talk about how using your strengths will make you a stronger performer. And in this time, if you're listening to this, if you are in one of those moments where you are in a funk, don't forget that your strengths do strengthen your performance. Because, I think to Ty's point, it is not the first thing that comes to mind. But if you're experiencing the funk right now and you're feeling like the brass monkey-funky monkey, get over to your CliftonStrengths report and get...reflecting? Is that what you would call it?
TyAnn: Yeah. You’re reflecting. Yeah, go back and dig into those Brings & Needs, and I think you'll find some wisdom there.
Lisa: All right. With that, we will see you next time. Bye for now.
Need More Resources To Help You Further Beat Those Funky Blues? Check These Out
Lisa mentioned how being in a funk is largely linked to being “stressed” and “anxious,” based on her experience discussing the situation with her clients. Listen to her as she explains how having a bad day, a person/team who frustrates you, and an environment where you feel mismatched might bring out the shadow side of your strengths in What Do Strengths Look Like Under Stress? Here you will learn how to reframe them from bad to better.
Or listen to Lisa’s grandma Venetta as she shares 5 career lessons. In one of the lessons, she encourages listeners to simply step back, get some perspective and look for the good in things even when stressed at work and feeling overwhelmed. The rest of her shared nuggets are just as golden!
Funky moments, whether major or minor ones, are all part of life, as the path towards our goals is not always straight and smooth. Our episode on How To Start Living Your Best Life with Lisa and Strother Gaines will inspire you to embrace situations that can throw you off your path yet lead you to reroute or arrange new ones.
All this points to the importance of anchoring on your CliftonStrengths talent themes in life.
See you in the next episode with Lisa and TyAnn.