increase your professional strength in 11 minutes a day

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If this were a fitness exercise, we’d be exclaiming, “no way.” But author and applied psychology expert Michelle McQuaid is proving that it’s possible not only to identify your greatest professional strengths, but to turn them into lifelong habits with as little as 11 minutes practice a day.

Why 11 minutes? In an interview, McQuaid noted that in her own prior life as a corporate executive she began to engage in the practice herself, as a way to keep herself invigorated and to “feel a little better about her work.”

“I noticed I stopped dragging my feet into the office each morning because I wanted to get there and learn something new,” she observed. “I also noticed that it started to create a more positive mood rippling through my days.”

She emailed her boss each Friday about her observations. Unbeknownst to her, he was emailing her ideas to 100 other individuals outside of the company and was getting favorable responses from many as they observed what she’d done. Then he offered her a new proposition—to transition out of her role in global branding to assume a new position, teaching and training the ideas she’s launched to the rest of the organization, worldwide. She’d created her own dream job.

“What I learned from this experience was that doing what we do best each day at work–even if it’s just using our strengths for 11 minutes–gives others the chance to see the potential that radiates from within us,” she said. She has since taught the approach to thousands of employees and has seen many of them experience similar results.

As a next step, earlier this McQuaid conducted a study with The VIA Institute that showed that over the past decade employees have become more interested in knowing and using their strengths at work. The study also shows that employees who focus on their strengths (defined as the things they’re both good at and also enjoy doing) are also those most likely (by a ratio of 65%) to describe themselves as flourishing at work.

More than 15 million people have taken surveys to discover their strengths, McQuaid reports, but her newest challenge, launched in July, is upping the ante by giving executives and employees tools to help them leverage their strengths regardless of their job description or the company they work for. During the challenge, which is available now and continues for the next several weeks until August 11, 2015, each participant commits to identify a strength and practice it for 11-minutes a day, and then assess the impact it makes on their workplace success.

Challenge participants do the following:

  1. Create a small daily habit to develop their character strengths.
  2. Track online how they’re using their habit until August 21, 2015.
  3. Report the impact their strength habit is having on their performance and wellbeing.
  4. Gain support from a community of others who are also practicing strength habits.

“With the Strength Challenge, we hope to give employees and their managers methods to kick start the process of workplace engagement and increased productivity,” says McQuaid. “Ultimately we hope to show the world that focusing on strengths has bottom line impact for performance and wellbeing.”

“Increasingly, employees and managers are recognizing the importance of building on their strengths as a critical pathway to better performance,” says VIA Institute’s chairman, Neal H. Mayerson. “This Strengths Challenge will give participants the tools to help them ‘move from what’s wrong to what is strong’.”

Findings from the Strengths Challenge will be available in November, 2015.

This post was originally published on Forbes.

By cheryl snapp conner
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