CAREER INSIDER

Finding brilliance in yourself and others

Focus on your strengths, make sure you are passing on knowledge, and remember that hard work still matters.
By Sandra Wiley

Instead of focusing on positives, we seem to be conditioned to look for all that is wrong with ourselves and others. When this happens, we miss the brilliance within and around us. As leaders, we must be able to find brilliance within ourselves and within our team.

Take a few minutes to reflect on the words of author Eric Micha’el Leventhal: “Our children are only as brilliant as we allow them to be.” Now, replace “children” with “employees” or “self” and ask yourself: Are you spending time helping people see the brilliance in who they are?

A good way to start this assessment is to focus on your own life.

You’ve got skill

Identify the things you are good at and become better at them. Skills can be:

  • Cognitive or learned: These are things you enjoyed learning about in school. What classes did you like most? Don’t focus on things you did not do well; focus on those that created confidence for you.
  • Affective or personality driven: These skills form your character and temperament. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? That is a part of your brilliance.
  • Conative or instinctive: You have an instinctive work style that should be embraced. You might like diving into the facts, or maybe organization is where you shine. Maybe you naturally create new ideas for services or you enjoy working with materials. Whatever you gravitate toward, keep going in that direction.

Give more than you get

Brilliance comes from within, but you will personally grow when you help others. Coaching, mentoring, and building relationships where you can guide others and add value through knowledge is important to you and to those you mentor.

Show gratitude

Show gratitude to others inside and outside your organization. I challenge leaders to think about the person on their team who is most valuable to them, someone they’d be most disappointed to lose. Then I ask them to think about the last time they told the person how much he or she was valued and appreciated. It is amazing how many have forgotten to show gratitude, even to their most valued employees.

Go out on a limb

When was the last time you made a commitment to do something that was risky? I’m not talking about skydiving, but rather going after a higher-level client, exploring a new niche, or volunteering for an organization. Brilliance comes from pushing yourself harder than you did the day before—sometimes, you need to take risks.

Think big

“Thinking outside the box” is an overused term. If you want to be brilliant, never get inside the box. Big-picture thinking is something that you can learn—although for some it will come naturally. Brilliant people will not say, “We have always done it that way” or “That will never work.”

Work ethic is not dead

When you combine skill, relationships, gratitude, and new ideas, the reality is that it is not enough unless you are also ready to do the work. Continue your education. Hang out with people smarter than you. Then put in time on the right things and dedicate yourself to being better every day.

Now, after you have assessed and begun working on yourself, teach these lessons to your team. You will be amazed at how they respond, and how brilliance will actually bubble to the top for your entire organization.

Sandra Wiley

Sandra Wiley is senior consultant and shareholder of  Boomer Consulting  in Manhattan, Kan., and is a speaker on topics such as team building, talent development, and performance improvement.

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