March 2010

The Year of the Tiger

The Year of the Tiger kicked off with Chinese New Year celebrations on February 14th.

Occurring once every twelve years within the cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, the Tiger represents both power and luck.

The Chinese Zodiac also predicts that 2010 will be characterized by intensity, change and travel. Followers of Chinese astrology expect the next twelve months to bring far reaching changes for everyone and suggest that this is a year to be active, seize opportunities and make the most of our personal and very individual talents.

Wishing you a very active and successful Year of the Tiger!

Coaching4Success (www.coaching4success.cz)

Part II of the Coaching4Success Self-Assessment workshop will take place on March 4th.

Objectives

  • Identify professional strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify your working style
  • Identify your interests
  • Match your skills and interests with job positions
  • Identify areas for training

Date & Time

  • Part II – March 4th, 17:30-20:30

Registration

Registration closed.

Cost per workshop

1 500 CZK + VAT (includes refreshments)

For more information about the Coaching4Success program and workshops please visit www.coaching4success.cz

June 2010: Anthony Robbins in Rome

Experience an extraordinary training event and bring your most important personal and professional ambitions to life.

Hi-Performance is pleased to present UNLEASH THE POWER WITHIN, a three-day seminar with Tony Robbins taking place in Rome from June 24th to 27th, 2010.

Anthony Robbins, world No. 1 in the field of peak performance coaching, has been teaching global leaders, businessmen and world-class athletes his strategies for success over 30 years. His clients include Bill Clinton, Quincy Jones, Serena Williams, and many others.

For more information about the event visit www.hiperformance.it/anthonyrobbins/en, call +39 06.36005152 or send an email to info@hiperformance.it.

Rotary Club Prague International “Caribbean Charity Flight” Dinner

The President and members of Rotary Club Prague International (www.rcpragueinternational.cz) cordially invite you to fly with them to the magical Caribbean islands and on the way help us to raise funds for the Rotary International Haiti relief fund. An evening of fun, frivolity, fabulous food and fantastic cocktails is certain to keep you entertained.

Our flight of fancy takes off at the Hotel Palace Praha at 19:00 on the evening of March 20th. Tickets are only 1,250 CZK, but first class service is absolutely guaranteed.

As always, seats are limited so early booking is recommended

Life vests will of course be available, but evening wear is recommended.

No carry-on baggage restrictions apply.

For tickets or information please e-mail Vanessa at vw@aubergray.com

Hotel Palace Praha (www.palacehotel.cz)

Calendar of Events and Activities

March 4 Coaching4Success: Self-Assessment Part II
March 16 Public Speaking Training: Rules of engagement: connecting with your audience
March 20 Rotary Club Prague International “Caribbean Charity Flight” Dinner
March 23 Power Lunch: Sfumato – A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty
April 20 Public Speaking Training
April 27 Power Lunch: Topic TBA
May 29 Rotary Dragon Boat Race
June 24-27 Anthony Robbins in Rome (http://www.hiperformance.it/anthonyrobbins/en)

Run With Your Strengths

Traditionally the New Year gives us the chance to reflect on the past 12 months, evaluate opportunities taken or missed, and think about making new commitments for the upcoming year such as stopping smoking, working less or spending more time with family.

In the business world, it is also the time when both employees and employers perform annual performance evaluations and run through the customary list of strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Interestingly, on the personal level, most people find it quite difficult to keep their New Year resolutions after the first few weeks. And in the professional world, while most employees and employers usually welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss yearly results and future goals, few really take advantage of the opportunity a yearly evaluation offers.

A key reason why this opportunity is lost, in both cases, is because most discussions focus on areas for improvement and accentuate the negative instead of highlighting the positive, regardless of how flattering or positive the previous year’s evaluation is.

In our personal life, resolutions usually focus on things we are unhappy about: our weight, smoking, our relationships, our finances. Professionally, the focus is on our flaws: time management, communication, talent management, delegation, etc.

Officially, the objective of the yearly evaluation is to make employees more aware of their strengths, and to help improve their work performance. But focusing on the negative has the opposite result: No matter how politely it is presented, most feedback about our weaknesses is perceived as criticism.

As the psychologist Carl Jung said, “Criticism has the power to do good when it is something that must be destroyed, dissolved or reduced, but it is capable of only harm when there is something to be built.” Criticism makes us feel inadequate, and is therefore not a useful tool for building confidence or positive results.

Unfortunately, we often have limited awareness of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, influenced by our parents, our teachers and our managers, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths remain dormant and neglected.

Laura Morgan Roberts, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Harvard Business School, has said that “Organizational researchers have shown that when we develop a sense of our best possible self, we are better able to make positive changes in our life.”

But according to management guru Peter F. Drucker, author of several indispensable management guides, “Most people do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer.” And most of us don’t believe that the secret to improvement lies in a deep understanding of our strengths, since we have a tendency to consider that our weaknesses surpass our strengths.

Identifying and cultivating our strengths

The old maxim says that we cannot see the picture when we are inside the frame. Since we have spent our whole life inside the frame of our strengths, we often have become blind to them.

Therefore, it is important to identify our signature strengths, not just knowing what we are good at, but identifying what we are great at. This distinction makes all the difference in the world.

The key is to focus on our strengths and not our weaknesses. Most people have a tendency to think about what they are not good at before what they are good at. But we cannot build performance on weaknesses, even less on what we cannot do. Reducing our weaknesses is not the path to greatness – improving our key strengths is.

Here are a few suggestions to identify your strengths:

  • Talk to people and ask them about what they think your strengths are
  • Think about the aspects of your life you are the most proud of
  • Think about the skills you have learned easily
  • Think about what you do comfortably and effortlessly
  • Think about situations when you feel most like yourself

Once you have identified your strengths, you need to think about how you can use them more frequently and more effectively in your life, and keep focusing on them.

Focusing on what we like and are good at

We all have innate talents and abilities, but they often go unnoticed, or diminish, because we tend to focus on our weaknesses, striving to eliminate them instead of working to perfect our talents.

If we excel at sales but struggle with marketing strategy, we believe that our difficulty to create a marketing plan will limit our chances to succeed while all we need to do is delegate that task to someone who is good at marketing.

Many corporate leaders have great people skills but not necessarily deep knowledge of finances. To succeed, instead of trying to become better accountants, they’re better off honing their communication talents and delegating the financial side of their businesses to a great CFO.

But the emphasis on weakness is deeply rooted in our western upbringing. If you come home from school with an A in French, a B in History and a D in Math, which grade do you suspect would get the most attention?

That is not to say that the D in Math should have been ignored, but rather that our balance is off and that we might benefit from a more balanced perspective. Paying attention to our weaknesses might help us avoid failure, but to reach excellence we need to work on our strengths.

It is also worth bearing in mind that our weaknesses have a tendency to provoke frustration and even anger in us. In contrast, a focus on what works makes us feel good and builds self-confidence, an additional reason to pay attention to our strengths rather than our weaknesses.

Warren Buffet genuinely believes that his reputation as the world’s greatest investor is due to his ability to leverage his particular strengths. Like many successful people he found a way to cultivate the strengths he had and put them to work.

He turned his natural patience into his now-famous “twenty-year perspective” that leads him to invest only in those companies whose trajectory he can forecast with some level of confidence for the next twenty years. His practical mind prompted him to invest mainly in those companies whose products and services he understood, like Coca-Cola and The Washington Post. And thanks to his trusting nature, after a careful evaluation of the managers of the companies in which he invests, he steps back and rarely interferes in the day-to-day operations of the their business.

What makes Warren Buffet special besides his financial success is what he did with his strengths. First he became aware of them and then chose not to focus on his weaker characteristics. Instead, he identified his strongest aptitudes and fostered them with education and experience.

Looking inside ourselves, identifying our strongest characteristics, and then fostering them with learning and practice allows us to find a role or a job that taps on our strengths. Only when we are able to do that do we become productive, fulfilled and successful.

This article was written for the Prague Leaders Magazine: www.leadersmagazine.cz

Wishing you a Happy and Sunny Spring

Karin