Marcus Buckingham

Study success to find excellence

Identify what works and what brings love to become successful.

February 24, 2020

To become the best you can be, don’t look at your weaknesses. Instead, focus on your strengths.

“We often study the failures to try to understand good,” says author and consultant Marcus Buckingham. “But if you study the bad and flip it, you get not bad. You need to study the excellence.”

Buckingham delivered a keynote address Monday at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference that looked at how using a free-thinking approach—putting aside theories and studying an idea as it happens in the world—could be used to attract and retain talent in the workplace.

“Excellence has its own pattern,” Buckingham says. “Study success. It’s different.”

Buckingham offered two tips on what individuals can do to become their most successful self:

1. Perform a strengths replay. When a person completes a task and it’s a successful outcome, don’t just merely say “good job,” Buckingham says. Use it as an opportunity to analyze the process and get their thoughts on what they did and why they think it worked.

“Your highest priority should be to interrupt them and ask what they’re thinking,” Buckingham says. “Help people get super curious about what works when it worked.”

2. Find the red threads. Build love into your job by figuring out what makes you happy.

Start by performing a love/loath analysis. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. Label them “loved it” and “loathed it.” For a week, list the activities that you loved—the ones that you were excited to do or wanted to spend more time doing—and the ones that you loathed—those activities that you procrastinated on or were bored with, Buckingham says.

Those activities in the “loved it” column are the red threads, Buckingham says. They are your strengths, which must be taken seriously.

These are also the activities that bring you love, which results in being collaborative, efficient, generous, innovative, and other qualities that are identified as qualities of an engaged employee.

But finding those red threads and feeling love in your job also allows you to make a contribution, whether it’s to your employer, your team, or the community.

“Our uniqueness is our power,” Buckingham says. “Take the red threads seriously and weave them into a unique and beautiful contribution to the community.”

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