What are your super powers?

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Yep..being a special Mum is one of my super powers!

I’ve been reflecting this week on my strengths,  because I know that if I don’t feed my strengths on a regular basis, it is very easy to start getting flat and frustrated.

In my ten steps to work life awesomeness… step #4 is Knowing Your Strengths….and it is easier said than done.

I’m pretty good at identifying my weaknesses, most of us are.    But knowing your strengths takes a bit more reflection.   I always find it a bit of fun to do personality tests, or there is the VIA Strengths test which I also love.   These tools can help you to put into perspective which things make you feel great, put you in your ultimate flow.   But you don’t really have to do any special tests,  if you sit down and write a list of all the things that you enjoy, or think about what your favourite project/role at work has been so far,  what were the elements that you have enjoyed?  that will give you a good guiding sense of things that are your strengths.    Or, you could ask your friends and family  (I’ve done this recently and was surprised how uncomfortable it was to ask, I was so embarrassed but boy was it interesting getting perspectives from people who really know me).  There may be things that you don’t consider yourself to be “good at”  (possibly because you are super hard on yourself),  but they can still be your strengths if you enjoy doing them or wish you could do more of it.

Knowing my own strengths was a massive turning point for me.   I spent a lot of time at work focusing on trying to “fix” the things I wasn’t very good at,  like talking too much in meetings, instead of thinking about how I could do more of the things I was good at.

I know that one of my strengths is being very much a people person.  I love having fun, laughter and friends.  Yes, I love talking!   Which also means I love being part of a team at work,  I especially like leading a team (that is two of my strengths merged into one…leadership and team work…BONUS!).

Which means working remotely is actually quite hard for me.   The flexibility of my job role is awesome,  and I love that it means the focus is all on the work that I do, not the fact that I am sitting at a desk 9-5pm.   But sitting home alone drains my energy like a car battery when you leave the light on.

So, being conscious of this, and knowing that being a “people person” is one of my strengths but it isn’t naturally in my day to day role…I have to make a conscious effort each day to ensure I get my teaming fix…to plug in, and charge up!   I volunteer for projects that require me to connect with others, even if it is just on the phone.   I made my weekly teleconference with my team into a video conference on Google Hangouts, so I can see their gorgeous faces.    I joined the running club in the office, so I would be “forced” into the office once a week to take a run with some colleagues.   I organised to pop over to my parents house for an afternoon cuppa between meetings.    And all those things help to keep the fire in my belly,  despite my role perhaps not being the perfect role for a “people” person like me.

Which is why it is so important to know what your strengths are.  And to realise that just because you love to cook, or you love to nurture people…doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel on whatever job you are doing now, and run away to be a Chef or work in a nursing home.   But to be able to think about how you can bring your strengths to the table today, how you can squeeze more of them into your everyday. And you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you will find.

Do you know what your super powers are and do you practice them every day?

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Will commuting to work become a thing of the past?

Last week I decided to drive for nearly 4 hours so that I could meet some of my team members in person. Now…I am a massive advocate of virtual working and I am really fortunate to work for a company that has amazing technology and the right culture to support virtual working. But I was still craving that connection that comes with meeting someone in person .

By chance, nearly all my current team members were going to be in the one location at the same time and it was too good an opportunity to miss out on a real team lunch. So I got up at the crack of dawn, jumped in the car and started driving.

I have to confess I kinda enjoyed this alontraffice time in the car. Since I normally work at home, I don’t commute, I go straight from my role as mum to my role at work without a moments breath between them. My days are filled with to do lists and actions, I pretty much NEVER just sit listening to the radio.  So this time went by quickly and smoothly.  Ahhh… Unfortunately,  I then hit the city and pretty much ground to a halt. Suddenly my blissful time in the car became frustrating and annoying, reminding me that virtual working has made it possible to avoid this on a daily basis.

When I finally arrived at the office, it was like a weird reunion. Here are the people that I work with every day, speak to every day and know their faces (from photos in the system and dodgy Google + “hangout” meetings and Skype)…yet at the same time, it is weird seeing them in the flesh, being able to lean over the desk and ask them something.   It was lovely going out for lunch and having conversation about the weather and the clothes we were wearing, that idle chit chat that remote workers miss out on.   I was quickly brought up to speed with the latest gossip (some good, some bad) and I had the opportunity to have a career 1:1 discussion with my boss…in a meeting room!

It was an exhausting day but as I climbed back into the car to make the long commute home, I felt both energised and excited.  However,  I reflected on it all on the way home (I had plenty of time, due to a breakdown causing an extra hour on my already long trek)

Whilst I was really glad that I was able to take this opportunity to connect on a different level, I also realised how strong our connection already was.   Working remotely has allowed me to become uber productive, to avoid wasting time in the commute and also to be able to focus when I need to. And when I need to connect, when I need to feel like a team, the others are there…on the end of the line.

Of course, we have to work harder than others to create this, we have to make time in meetings to talk about the “mundane” stuff, like what we did at the weekend. We have “virtual coffee” meetings to catch up on gossip and we use all the online collaboration tools to make our projects run like clockwork.  But ultimately,  the modern workplace has really evolved,  and it is possible to have human connections…remotely.    It feels like just another reminder not to get too caught up with what has worked in the past and embrace a future which might mean doing things differently…not better, not worse, just different.