Unusual strengths

Michael Burry has one eye removed from a childhood tumour and Aspergers Syndrome which has prevented him from forming good relationships with people.

He used these “strengths” to be the biggest winner in the 2008 financial meltdown by betting against the dodgy mortgage loans that caused all the trouble for the rest of …the world.

A great example of playing to strengths no matter how unusual they are…

The Vanity Fair article previews Michael Lewis’ new book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

The case for optimism

Even if I’m completely wrong.

If there had been two ways that something could work out and I have chosen the incorrect one.

If I had been smoking my socks and there is no validity in what I thought would happen.

If it is now entirely clear that I have been unrealistic and out of touch with the reality of how things work.

I believed something better would happen than it did. My judgment failed me and left me choosing a fantasy rather than seeing the harsh reality of the situation.

When my optimistic view on the issue, which I have held on to, is proven out of touch with what has happened. When my optimistic view has been held up for all its faults.

When, on that day, I am devastated by the consequences of choosing the wrong option and have left dealing with how to cope with a scenario I had not anticipated.

On that day, the day that I am wrong, I will say, “You were right, I was wrong.”

Between today and then however, I will have been happier, slept better, held more hope and had more fun, than the pessimist.

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Playing to your strengths

One of the things I have really enjoyed learning about in my executive coaching has been positive psychology and in particular Gallup’s Strengthsfinder. I recently wrote an article on the Performance Zone site which looks at focusing on strengths for business and sports people.

The most amazing thing for me was a 1925 study which inspired Gallup’s initial research. The study was conducted by Elizabeth Hurlock and was published in the journal of Education Psychology. In a very controlled study she found that students who were praised for their good work in a maths class improved performance by 71%, in comparison to to only 19% improvement in the group that was criticized.

Based on that research, Gallup came up with the hypothesis:

Both individuals and organisations have more potential for growth in areas of strength than in areas of weakness.

My experience both with executive clients and with my young children and family members is that this is true. What is challenging is that it so often feels easier to find fault than to find all the positives. But then finding the positives is a lot more fun. I’m fortunate in that my coach and mentor, Richard Oxtoby, is such a powerful model of this.

If you’re interested in more information about Strengthsfinder and how to take the test to see what your top strengths are then you can find more details about the book and the test at Amazon.