Analytical: Finding Your Flow

The Strengths Movement can trace it's roots back to the University of Nebraska.  There, as a Professor of Psychology, Don Clifton first started wondering what the world might look like if we started thinking what was right with people versus what is wrong with them.  Today, the University has a thriving Strengths Institute which operates in partnership with Gallup and the Clifton Foundation and continues research into positive psychology and the value of development through strengths based sciences. 

On occasion, the Strengths Institute awards prizes based upon work that advances the science and practice of positive psychology.  One such winner was a researcher named Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, who wrote a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

"Flow" is defined as "a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it". 

In the workplace, flow is achieved when we seek out opportunities or challenges that will leverage and stretch our natural talents.  This is a balancing act.  If the project or task is outside of our core talents, there is a chance we will perform with less confidence, become anxious and likely will not deliver our best work.  Conversely, if our talents are over-matched and the opportunity is too simplistic, we will likely become bored and disengage.

Here are some indicators of when you are working within your flow......
  • You do not watch the clock - time passes quickly
  • You don't consider it "work" - you enjoy  time spent on this project 
  • You balance the tasks with your unique talents - a controlled "stretch" of your strengths
  • You have complete focus on the tasks - nothing else matters
  • You establish a personal goal to finish the task - and imagine the rewards at the finish line
One group of people who I know will value the detailed research on flow from Dr. Csikszentmihalyi and the Strengths Institute are individuals with the top Talent Theme of Analytical.  People with strong Analytical talents challenge everyone to "prove it" and are typically objective and dispassionate.  They consistently search for reasons why things are the way they are.  Analytical people provide value to any team or organization by uncovering the essential facts needed for excellence in any endeavor.

The likelihood of excellence is certainly greater when we are in our flow.  As leaders, we can guide our direct reports on pathways to excellence by aiming their natural talents towards projects or tasks that are both challenging and rewarding.  This will have a positive impact on their engagement, happiness and general well-being.  

People with Analytical talents search for patterns and connections using data or other facts.  I am confident that if asked to study the most engaged and successful people in their workplace, the facts and data would indicate that all of the subjects had one thing in common - they found their flow

How can you provide solid evidence to people with the Analytical Talent Theme that the strengths-based approach is a proven path to excellence?  

* People with the Talent Theme Analytical love to find patterns in data and facts and then organize ideas.  Give them the opportunity to study data and then explain the patterns in detail to the larger group.  

* Get Analytical people involved in the early stages of any new initiative or project.  They will be able to assess the feasibility and direction of the plan before it gets too far into the process.  

* Help them find the most credible sources for data and facts; books, websites, subscriptions, "subject matter experts", etc. that can serve as references.  

Dan is currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  He prefers white-water rapids over data lakes and lists Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst his signature talents.    Find him on Twitter @dpddonovan and Instagram @strengthszone  


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