What Makes Us Happy… It Isn’t What You Think

By Linda Walker

It’s getting to be so difficult knowing what gifts to give to your loved ones at the holidays. We all have so much “stuff.” Do we need more “stuff” to be happy? That’s a big “No.” That’s when I began to imagine what affordable yet memorable gifts I could give. I had some interesting ideas, so I thought I’d share them with you here.

What Makes Us Happiest

Studies tell us that the money you earn over $75,000 in annual income doesn’t make you happier. Neither do the things more money buys. What does make us happier? “Experiences!” Here’s what I mean by that.

Remember a time you bought tickets to a concert, a play, or a trip you’d been anticipating. As soon as you buy the tickets, it could be months before the event, you begin enjoying the experience. Anticipation of the event is a big part of the experience! Your brain’s reward center floods with dopamine. This help the Creative Geniuses and adults with ADHD I work with who lack dopamine.

Then comes the big day! The real live experience happens! You enjoy it, you make memories, it’s amazing! More dopamine hits! If someone else gifted it to you, you’re reminded of their gift and are grateful; another dopamine hit! Months, even years later, you describe the experience to others. You relive it again and flood your brain with more dopamine. Experiences are the best gifts you can give and receive. They flood your brain in dopamine as you wait for the big day. A dopamine flood again during the experience. And they live in your memory, flooding your brain with dopamine again and again!

What Makes a 73-Year-Old Grandmother Jump Like a Teenage Girl at a Beatles Concert

A few years ago, I gave my mother tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert. She is their Number ONE fan. She was so excited. I kid you not, my then 73-year-old mother jumped up, screaming like a one of those teenage girls at a Beatles concert. She was so excited! It was a great gift for her but also an amazing gift for me! I loved to see her so excited. Then, of course, going to the concert was a great experience we still talk about today.

My grandkids live very far away. I only see them twice a year. They have a huge extended family so the kids have almost every gift under the sun. It’s hard to get them something they’ll appreciate. So, what do you give them? I know my oldest grandson loves reading, so I got him a subscription to National Geographic for Kids. Several times a year, he gets something new to read from me. And it reminds I love him.

The Gift of Creativity

Of course, one of my most famous and successful “experience” gifts I gave to my husband. When we were struggling with his ADHD, life wasn’t much fun. He was under stress and felt guilty for not pulling his weight at home. He didn’t feel he deserved to treat himself to any downtime. I wanted him to have the chance to develop his amazing artistic talents. I enrolled him in an art course as a Christmas gift. The course forced him to take two and a half hours a week to do honor one of his gifts. He loved the course! It helped him relieve stress. He became so much calmer after attending the weekly classes it was a gift for the whole family! And it was a catalyst for his art career.

Many of my clients’ spouses register them to one of my group coaching or online programs. These courses help them improve their productivity. But more important, it helps them find time and energy to do what they want in life. I’m revamping my programs to be better than ever, so I’m not trying to sell you anything. They aren’t available right now. But consider the gift of a course that will improve your loved one’s life.

Memberships are also great gifts. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) is an organization serving adults with ADHD. They offer webinars, virtual support groups and more great services minimal cost.

Giving Is Also a Gift

Another great gift is to give money to charity. You can also volunteer as a family during the holidays. Each year I’ve given to charity in the name of my loved ones instead of gifts. World Vision has a catalog of projects you can gift.

My mom is an advocate for school children, teaching to prevent abuse and bullying. Each year I give money to save child soldiers or young girls sold into prostitution on her behalf. My father-in-law is a retired farmer. I give a donation to equip poor families with what they need to start a farm to feed their families in his name.

My oldest daughter and her family adopt a struggling local family. They assemble a gift basket of all the fixings for Christmas dinner and toys for each of the family’s children. A local organization involves the whole family in the experience. Everyone gets those dopamine shots that make you happy when you help others. These types of gifts remind us to be grateful for all we have and to pay it forward.

Enjoy your holidays. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Procrastination Is a Habit: Here’s How to Break It

By Linda Walker

Creative Geniuses tend to procrastinate. Or at least that’s one thing they complain to me about. Business owners wear many hats. Even if you love your business, there are plenty of less enjoyable tasks you’re tempted to put off. And since there are always new emergencies popping up, it’s easy to keep kicking them down the road.

If you do this often enough, you might even begin to think it’s who you are; you might think, “I’m a procrastinator.” Keep saying that and soon it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You begin to think it’s in your DNA. But that’s not empowering. Since you can’t change your DNA, you think there’s nothing you can do about your procrastination. It’s also completely wrong.

Procrastination is a habit. And you can replace a habit.

Let’s look at how you developed that procrastination habit and what you can do about it.

Procrastination Is a Learned Behaviour

Creative Geniuses often have difficulty making decisions. Your brain makes many random connections. This is the secret of your creativity but gives you too many options! Faced with uncertainty, you hesitate. Once you hesitate, you’re easily distracted. Your brain isn’t activated by importance. It’s interest, passion, urgency and excitement that get your attention. In fact, you’ll do anything to avoid boredom, no matter how important the task. If you’re bored or uncertain, your go-to approach is to delay or divert your attention to a different task.

Unfortunately, delaying or diverting your attention to a different task is very “rewarding.” When you put off a necessary but boring or uncertain task long enough, it becomes urgent. Your brain activates on urgency so leaving things until the last minute is rewarding. (Yes, it’s hard on you and the people in your life in the long term, but right now, “Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” has become your motto.) Over time, this became a habit of procrastinating.

You Can Replace Your Procrastination Habit

What is a habit? Habits are anything we do automatically. There are good habits and bad habits (does anyone else feel like we have way more bad habits than good habits?) A habit is a series of routine behaviors you complete when a trigger occurs. Completing that routine gives you a reward. It’s very difficult to stop a habit. To do this, you need to identify the source of the habit. Is the trigger boredom, uncertainty, indecision, lack of planning, lack of focus, fear…?

Once you understand what trigger activates the routine, you can try to get rid of the trigger. For example, you could delegate boring tasks rather than put them off. Or you could plan better to avoid indecision. One client was always late to the office because he took so long to get dressed. He fixed that by planning all his outfits for the week on Sunday evening. He chose his shirt, tie and suit and even put underwear and socks in his shirt pocket. No more morning decision-making.

Sometimes you cannot stop the trigger. But by playing with the elements of the habit, you can replace it with a different habit. You do this by creating new behaviours you repeat each time you’re faced with the trigger. For example, if you can’t focus on a task now, don’t put it off because you “don’t feel like it.” Choose to schedule the task at a time when you will have more focus.

When you’re tempted to put off a task because of indecision, choose to use a decision tool instead. List the pros and cons of a decision and act on your analysis. (If the pros and cons balance out, you could flip a coin! Acting is often better than procrastinating.) If you’re putting off a task that bores you, delegate it. Or take a different approach. Go work in a coffee shop. Commit to an accountability buddy. Phone a friend and tell her you’ll have this task done in an hour. Call her back to confirm. Or invite others to do it with you. One client gathered coworkers in the conference room on Friday afternoon to finish their paperwork. Once everyone finished, they ordered pizza.

Focus on the Reward

When you want to create a new habit, pay attention to the reward. With the right reward you can replace procrastination with a more empowering habit. To create a habit, you must repeat your new routine each time the trigger occurs. Make sure the reward for this new routine is as good or better than the reward you get from procrastinating.

Notice the win. Reinforce the new routine by celebrating the win. Notice how you feel when you’ve completed the task. Recognize who you had to be to get it done. You’ve become someone you and others can count on! Celebrating reinforces the benefit you get from completing the task. We rarely celebrate procrastinating. Making a fuss about completing the task helps repeat the behavior in the future.

Procrastination as a habit, not a character flaw. After all, you have the power to change the habit and stop procrastinating.

The Choices You Make for Your Time are the Choices You Make for Your Life

By Linda Walker

I attended the Entrepreneur Experience conference in San Diego last week. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Stop Apologizing was one of the speakers. She said something that gave me pause. It might give you pause too. She said “You have the time to do what you want, but you choose to do other things instead.”

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me? I have no time, I’m busy, busy, busy!”

When Someone You Respect Says Something You Don’t Want to Hear

So here’s the thing, when someone I respect says something I disagree with. Or they outright irritate me, I journal about it. Not to complain. But to question my thoughts about it. More about that another day.

Have I have been making the wrong choices? Have I been busy doing something besides the important things I need to do?

I had to say I have. I’ve been “binge learning”. I love learning. And I do need to continue learning. We all do. But – I spend many hours of my day learning – not using this knowledge, not sharing it.

And sharing my knowledge. Helping you. That’s what gives me joy. And it’s more helpful for you! Not doing what I want to do is causing all sorts of anxiety and guilt.

You Have Some Choices to Make

You ever think the universe aligns to hit you over the head with messages you’ve been ignoring? This was one of those times. I’m updating my Focus to Thrive program and today I filmed, “We have 24 hours to fill each day. We are already so busy, it’s impossible to add more. We have to make some choices. You can’t keep doing more. And more. And more! You need to drop something.”

Thing is, I’ve been saying this to my clients for years.  So why was I not choosing what I do more carefully?

The Choices You Make Say Something About You

You choose and accept what you’re already doing. Or you can choose to create space in your schedule to do what you want to do. But to do that, you must give up some of what you’re currently doing. It could be something easy, like watching cat videos. Or it could be hard, like not hanging out with your friends as often.

What Brings You Joy? What You Choose to Do with Your Time Is What You Choose for Your Life

Once I realized I did have the choice, the decision was easy. I want to share what I learn. I want to connect with you. I want to make your life better. Because I LOVE doing that!

I want to, and need to, continue to learn. I need to block out specific times for learning. But I’ll use time boxing to limit the time I spend learning. And I’ll use time I save to write more. You’ll be hearing from me a bit more. I hope you see that as a good thing! J

Now it’s your turn

What are you choosing to do instead of what you need to do? To grow? To achieve your goals? To succeed?

What choices do you need to make?

I’d love to hear what you’ll do: Share what you want to do more of?

What will you remove from your schedule to carve out more time for that?

Happy Quitters’ Day! Now What?

I’m curious. What are you striving for this year? Do you have a plan for how you’ll get there? New Year’s Resolutions are popular. But they aren’t very effective. If you’ve adopted a New Year’s resolution, there’s an excellent chance you’ve already abandoned it. In fact, on January 12, you can wish people “Happy Quitters Day”! Studies show this is the tipping point. On this day more New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside than are still in effect.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve abandoned your resolution. Some people have given up striving for personal growth. They are so discouraged they have given up trying to become a better version of themselves. They’re afraid of deceiving themselves and others around them. We all want this year to be better than last year. But New Resolutions are an ineffective way of making that happen. If you’ve become frustrated with the whole process of making resolutions, I don’t blame you.

A typical New Year’s Resolutions hasn’t got a chance because:

  • It’s unrealistic. News flash. You cannot change all your bad habits in one fell swoop, even if it is a New Year!
  • It’s not sustainable. Two hours of working out every evening is not possible. Even Olympic athletes allow for days off.
  • It lacks backbone. A resolution cannot work alone. You need a plan for how you will make it work.
  • It is pass/fail, with no room for nuance. No one gets ideal results on the first try. You must be free to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and adjust your approach.

So instead of New Year’s Resolutions, what can you do?

  • Identify what you want to achieve. Then get very clear on why it’s important to you. Focus on the “Why” for motivation.
  • State your goal as if it was already happening. Say “I’m taking steps to increase sales by 50%.” This is much more powerful than saying “I want to increase sales this year.”
  • Create one new habit that will help you reach your goal. To increase sales, you could increase the number of sales calls each week. You could by publish one new article each week on your blog, publish it on social media to increase engagement with your clients. You could attend one new networking event each month. To name a few…
  • Start with small steps. Radical changes cause too much stress because they take you far out of your comfort zone. Start small and make incremental steps that let you stretch your comfort zone. As you get more comfortable, raise the stakes.
  • See “failure” as a learning opportunity. Then adjust your plan. Don’t quit, make small changes to your habits.
  • Reward yourself. Notice what you’ve accomplished. Don’t waste energy fretting about not achieving what you’d hoped. Celebrate even small wins. Being a tough taskmaster doesn’t help you reach bigger goals. Celebrating increases your energy and provides an experience you’ll want to repeat. When you celebrate progress, you’ll want to continue that progress.
  • Start now! Don’t wait until everything is perfect to get started. Nothing will ever change because things are never perfect. Don’t wait until you have time. Make time.

Be happy no matter what. If you achieve your goals, celebrate! If you don’t reach your goals, striving towards them has already changed you for the better.

So now, let me know what new habit will you be adopting this year?

One Magic Ingredient That Increases Intimacy in Your Creative Genius Relationship

by Linda Walker

The way we were

Duane and I have shared our story many times. We are open about how bad things were for the first 15 years of our marriage. We don’t hold back, because we want people to understand we’ve been where you are. But we also share how we’re still married after 34 years. We want to give you hope.

Those first 15 years were rough. We were in dire financial straits. Duane never followed through. I don’t have ADHD, so I picked up the slack for everything Duane couldn’t do. And there was a lot he couldn’t do. (Sometimes I was sure it was stuff he wouldn’t do!) We were both under a lot of stress and that puts strain on a relationship. We fought all the time!

People think it was Duane getting help for his ADHD that changed our relationship. They think once he was “fixed,” it was smooth sailing. Of course, when Duane got help, it reduced a lot of stress on our relationship. But even that wouldn’t have saved our marriage. We needed one more thing. Luckily, we discovered the missing ingredient. And it turned our hellish marriage into wedded bliss.

What’s that secret ingredient?

Empathy was missing from our relationship. We discovered we weren’t listening to each other. Neither of us understood how much we had in common. We both felt lonely and wounded. It was only once we began to “listen” that we were able to see each other’s point of view. Once we were able to see our partner’s point of view we were able to mend the relationship.

Empathy is the ability to see things from another person’s point of view. We often say “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” Seeing the world from their perspective is the only way to understand what’s happening. During our many fights, (actually shouting matches) we spewed our anger and pain at each other.

We weren’t listening to each other because we were too busy trying to be right. When you listen, listen to understand. Don’t listen only to prepare your comeback. That’s “empathy.” Is it the missing ingredient in YOUR relationship?

It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

by Linda Walker

As another February started, I was reminded how often adults with ADHD relive the same old challenges they’ve been dealing with all their ADHD lives. It’s as if you keep replaying the actions, hoping the outcome will be different each time.

But now that Groundhog Day is over, why are you continuing to relive the same challenges? If this sounds like you, it may be that you feel as if you’re stuck and not making any progress. Of course, if all you’ve been doing is replaying the scene over and over in the same way, and of course, achieving the same unwanted results, you are stuck!

Though maybe today is the day you realize that if you want a different outcome, you need to change some things. If you’re ready to make that change, where do you start?
Many ADHDers and other creative geniuses struggle with managing everyday life.

How often do you rush out the door at the last minute for an important appointment then berate yourself or scream at the drivers around you who seem to be slowing you down? How often have you looked for your keys, your wallet, your bus pass? How often have you promised to buckle down and get work done in your business but found yourself watching cat videos on YouTube for an hour instead?

Each time you mess up, you vow to never repeat the mistake again. Yet the next day, you find yourself doing it again. Each time you repeat the same mistake, you berate yourself for your lack of discipline. Every time you repeat this same cycle, you are eroding your self-confidence, convincing yourself that if only you had more willpower, you could change. Soon, you believe that you are simply flawed, you don’t have as much willpower as other people, and therefore you’ll never be able to change.
This is simply not true. You’re reliving the same problems, not because you lack self-discipline, but because you lack a plan to solve the problem at the source. And it’s not a lack of willpower that’s at the source.
How would you like to live a new life adventure, one where you’ve got your sh**t together?

Here’s a strategy to do that: As my husband always says:

“Don’t solve the problem once, solve the problem once and for all.”

The first step to doing that is to set aside time to think about the problem.

Consider the steps you take to get the current result – otherwise known as the routine. You accomplish your current results by following a series of actions, and those actions are the same each time. Next look at the results you want and compare them to the results you’re getting – what is the gap? How close, or how far, are you to achieving the results you want?

Determine the source of the problem

Why are you always leaving at the last minute? Are you getting up too late? Are you getting involved in something in the morning and losing track of time? Are you looking for something to wear? Are you spending too long singing in the shower, practicing to get on The Voice?

Identify a solution you want to adopt

As a result of your analysis, you determine you’re checking your emails and spending too long answering them. What’s the solution? You could decide not to open emails in the morning or set a timer to limit the time you spend on them and only scan for and respond to urgent emails. You could get up earlier.

Put it in writing

Next, write down what you’ve chosen to do because there’s a good chance you’ll forget. You could create a notebook in Evernote and create a note. Include a trigger to use to remind you of your new plan. It could be a paper or electronic post-it note that pops up when you turn on your computer, or a visual cue you leave on top of your computer – a troll doll or other small figurine, for example – or have someone remind you – although I am not a fan of deferring your responsibilities onto others because when they mess up, you end up playing the very unproductive blame game.

Make changes where needed

Next, test your plan: Take some time at the end of the day to determine how well it worked and tweak as needed, then test it again.

 

 

Want to start right now? Register for my brand new Top 3 Productivity Hacks for Creative Genius Entrepreneurs.

5 Creative Genius Strategies That Will Make This Your Best Year Yet


Another year has gone. Are you feeling frustrated? Are you still grappling with the same challenges you were a year ago? We all tend to get down on ourselves for not being “better.” Change isn’t easy. You need to be aware of what needs to change. Then you need to decide to make it happen. Then you need to act. These five strategies will help make this your best year yet.

    1. Develop a scaffolding of routines and rituals. Build consistency into your life by creating anchors and supports. You will still have plenty of freedom to create, to innovate, and be spontaneous. The “trail markers” let you see progress, give you hints that it’s time to take care of yourself, and prevent chaos.Many creative geniuses don’t believe they can create routines or rituals. Have you tried adopting routines and failed? Or does the idea of adopting a routine make you feel ill? Do you worry routines will stifle your creativity and your spontaneity? Building and adopting routines does not lead to a boring life. It reduces chaos. It’ll take less time to do the things you find boring. Then you can do things that excite you and ignite you.

      You will never be completely free until you’ve adopted routines. Routines allow you to have time and energy to enjoy the rest of your life.

    2. Contrary to popular belief, your brain is better than normal. It works faster, it’s more creative, and it’s energetic. The problem isn’t with how your brain goes, the challenge is getting your brain to stop. Dr. Ned Hallowell compares it to a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes. To work at its best your brain needs special care.

      Get enough sleep to be well rested
      every night; this is non-negotiable. Drink water; your brain works better when you are well hydrated. The effects are almost immediate and amazing.

      You need to exercise daily. Cardio exercise is essential to keep your body fit. More important, exercise releases the very hormones your brain needs most.

      Your brain runs on glucose. Do not skip meals. Eat healthy, low-carb, high-protein foods. The amount of glucose your brain needs for peak functioning is astounding. Food high in simple carbohydrates delivers inconsistent amounts of glucose. They don’t help; they make it hard to think.

    3. All work and no play makes your brain a dull brain. Most of us spend our day staring at a screen. We work at a computer. We spend our evenings watching TV or playing video games. Any spare minute, we’re checking our phone. We’re surfing the Web or on social media.You’re a Creative Genius. Creative Genius needs a real life to manifest itself! Stop living through other’s social media feeds. Engage your brain by engaging your body in real life. Get out in nature. Connect with people face-to-face. Engage in creative activities. Create something! Draw a picture. Cook a meal. Knit a scarf. Build a bookcase. It’s not important what you do as long as you love it. Express your creativity!
    4. Develop your strengths and passions. Do it on purpose. Do it every week. Identify your top five strengths – no more. Pick an activity that exercises one or more of those strengths. Make a plan to integrate it into your life. Now this may mean giving up another activity. You may even need your family’s help.Be prepared, you will face a lot of resistance to change. Enroll in a course, find a mentor, or join a team. Make it a consistent part of your life.

      Once you have done that, do it again. You’ll know you’re finished when everything you do engages your strengths and passions. (Ok, you’ll never finish, but it’s great fun to try!)

    5. Learn to work with your brain instead of against it. Many Creative Geniuses adopt strategies that work for neurotypicals. Unfortunately those neuro-typical strategies don’t always work for Creative Geniuses. You have unique brain wiring, so you need different strategies.How do you work with your brain instead of against it? You build awareness about the way you work best. Many Creative Geniuses are not aware when they focus best. Unless you understand how your brain works, you can’t optimize how you use your time. When you know, you can create the right conditions to focus so you can be more productive. You can get the right things done at work and at home, and still have time and energy left over to have an awesome life.

You’re a Creative Genius surrounded by neurotypicals. Society’s rules work for neurotypicals. Adopt these 5 strategies and live your life on your terms. Celebrate who you are. You have untapped potential. These simple adjustments will create the conditions that will unleash that Creative Genius.

3 Creative Genius Strategies for Surviving the Holiday Hustle and Bustle

by Linda Walker, PCC, B.Adm.

The holidays can be a challenging time of year for creative geniuses. There’s so much to do with decorating, shopping, cleaning, cooking, partying and the list goes on. You may push yourself to exhaustion.

This is often when you begin to feel overwhelmed and your mood starts suffering. And when that happens…!

This holiday season do yourself and everyone around you a favor. Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed. How do you do that? Here are 3 steps to a better Christmas.

Simplify

This season is about being together. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to let go of some of the “fluff” if it takes you over the edge. Some creative geniuses I know don’t put up a Christmas tree. We don’t decorate the outdoors anymore. If some recipes are long and tedious for you, don’t do them unless these things provide more joy than effort.

Don’t overspend

Studies prove experiences provide the most joy, not things. When we buy gifts to “wow” our loved ones, we forget that what they want is to spend time with us. We run out of time to enjoy the people we love.

When you spend your holidays sweating the credit card bills, they aren’t much fun. What if you did something different this year? Try playing board games, building Lego cities or chill-axing with your loved ones.

Take care of your needs

Many of my clients describe feeling overwhelmed during the holidays. This can be especially true when the whole family is together. Overwhelm can lead to especially bad consequences during your Recharge Zone. Allow yourself to disconnect for 20 minutes when you feel overwhelmed. Excuse yourself and explain you need a bit of air or a short nap. You’ll come back ready to reengage. Let your loved ones know you need a break.

Whatever you do, take time to enjoy this festive season to be with your family and friends.

Strengths Lessons from a 4-Year-Old

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Four generations of my family spent a week together sharing a cottage in a remote corner of Quebec. My oldest daughter, her husband and our two grandsons, Evan, 4 years old, and Peter, 20 months old, live in Regina, Saskatchewan. That’s 2,850 kilometres (1740 miles) away, so we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like. The whole family only manages to get together once or twice a year.

I miss them terribly and so I cherish every moment with them. I was delighted to discover the cottage came with access to their two kayaks. On the first morning, I was up early and following breakfast I jumped into the bigger kayak. I’ve only kayaked twice in my life but found I was fairly skilled at it and developed an instant liking for it. To my great delight, my oldest grandson, Evan, also took to kayaking like a duck to water. It became something we could bond over.

Evan’s ease at learning kayaking inspired this post. He exhibited such clear signs of a strength it was a joy to watch. You often ask me how to determine what your strengths are, so I thought I’d use my experience with Evan and kayaking to share the five signs of a strength. Maybe it’ll help you identify your own strengths.

Your Strengths Are Your Path to Success

One of the keys to being a successful Creative Genius is to work with your strengths as much as possible. You may think this is easier said than done. My clients often tell me they’re so busy correcting their mistakes that there is little time to devote to identifying and developing their strengths.

The great news is that it takes much less time to develop your strengths to a high level of ability than is does to improve your weaknesses, even if you’re only trying to achieve mediocrity! Even setting aside a few hours a week to work on developing your strengths will reap great results quickly.

First, you must determine what your strengths are. Many Creative Geniuses fail to recognize the uniqueness of their strengths. When you discover something you’re good at and that comes easily to you, you usually think it must be easy for everyone else as well. Perhaps you’ve struggled so long it’s hard for you to imagine that you could be better at something than other people. Or perhaps you aren’t observing other people closely enough to see that most people struggle to do something that comes easily to you.

Whatever the reason, I invite you to take a different approach. When you find something comes easily to you, suspect a strength.  Then set out to prove that it is indeed a strength. You can do so by looking for these specific signs.

Recognizing Your Strengths

The first sign Evan was exhibiting a strength is the relative ease with which he picked up the new skills. Like most young boys, Evan can be a bit clumsy. But with the kayak, he exhibited very fast learning. With only a few instructions, within 5 minutes, he was paddling around the pond like someone who’d been doing it for months. And he learned each new technique quite quickly.

A second characteristic of a strength is that you yearn to do it. As soon as he set eyes on the little kayak and saw me kayaking on the big one, he wanted to try it. I know, for a four-year-old that’s not unusual – they tend to have unbound curiosity at that age – but every chance he got, Evan wanted to be kayaking. He also yearned to learn more. He was observing me and asking how I was doing each stroke and then he’d attempt it. This brings me to the third characteristic.

Evan, wanted to kayak every chance he got, and he was always interested in learning better ways to do it. His interest was consistent, and he was confident as he attempted each new technique, unafraid of making mistakes. Most four-year-olds quickly become bored with things and can get easily frustrated when they don’t get a technique right the first time. He seemed to know he’d eventually “get it”, so he was willing to continue to work to perfect his skills.

Evan strived for excellence, a fourth characteristic of a strength. He kept asking me to correct him and would follow my advice to the letter, always striving to improve his paddling, or other techniques such as stopping, turning, embarking and disembarking.

Finally, he gained a huge amount of satisfaction from it, the fifth characteristic of a strength. He enjoyed himself a lot.

How Can You Use This?

As an adult, we are often curious about trying new things but we hesitate. We’re afraid of looking foolish if we don’t get it right the first time. Unfortunately, the only way around this is to change your mindset. Worrying what others will think is keeping you from some potentially amazing experiences.

I encourage you to always seek out new experiences. You never know what will lead you to discover a strength. Don’t dismiss any opportunity – it doesn’t matter if it’s “practical” or related to your career. Any strength could help you in your career, but it’s unlikely Evan or I will make a career out of kayaking. However, successful experiences and activities you enjoy make your life more enjoyable. They also allow you to increase your confidence, which can help you in all areas of your life.

If there is something you yearn to try, seek a way to try it:

  1. Ask a friend who does that activity to let you try it.
  2. Take an introductory class or an online course on it.
  3. Read about it.

If you find an activity easy, don’t discount as “it’s easy for me, so it must be easy for others.” Set out to prove it is a strength:

  1. See if your skills grow quickly compared to others. What more can you learn to get better at it? Do that.
  2. Practice and see how much satisfaction you get from it.
  3. Are you consistently performing well?

Then learn to create your own rules to succeed. Grab your copy of the Top 3 Productivity Hacks for Creative Geniuses

In a comments box below, share what activity you’re going to experiment with. And enjoy!