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.