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Career Boosters
Take a voyage of discovery
Nora Tong
update on Saturday, March 20, 2010
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Psychologist Dr Rob Yeung's practical guide to finding one's strengths and shortcomings is a must-read for people who doubt their abilities or think they may be in the wrong job.

Personality: How to Unleash Your Hidden Strengths argues that everyone has a unique personality that we must respect, and we will be fulfilled by pursuing work which allows us to deploy our strengths.

"Use all the talents you have at your disposal to make your situation fit you - not the other way round. Find a niche that allows you to be comfortable, happy and fulfilled," Yeung says.

The author holds a PhD in exercise and sports psychology, with an emphasis on motivation and peak performance, and is an in-demand television personality on CNN, and the BBC's Working Lunch.

The book covers seven aspects of personality, including resilience, conscientiousness, sensitivity and knowledge questing.

Readers are invited to fill in questionnaires to find out in which dimension they are in. The author provides you with an understanding of the nature of your personality, the situations that suit you and those that don't, and suggests how you can make the most of yourself.

He then gives tips to create a personal action plan. First, decide which aspects of your personality you want to work on and get a second opinion from someone who knows you well and who has your best interests at heart. It is also important to set goals you can score.

The book is written in a positive and encouraging tone so that you won't feel down even when you discover or confirm some of your weaknesses. The author's approach seems to underscore his belief that we are all different and that there is nothing about ourselves to be ashamed of. Instead, we should tailor a personal action plan that maximises our strengths.

For example, people with low inquisitiveness should recognise how down-to-earth they are. "You thrive when you spend most of your time on practical matters rather than abstract ideas and fanciful possibilities. So learn that you will succeed when you find that sweet spot," Yeung writes.

While playing to our strengths does not mean we can excuse our flaws, which in the case of people with low inquisitiveness means they should train themselves to think out of the box, the author says these individuals should focus on being a "doer" rather than spend the bulk of their time learning how to work with concepts and ideas. The book also has easy-to-follow suggestions on how to eliminate bad habits.

For people with low resilience, for instance, the author suggests they take timeout when they are worrying and focus on performing an easy rote task.

He then gives examples of ways to override disruptive emotions. "Write a detail about a neutral or pleasant topic such as a recent holiday. Replay a favourite song in your

head or pick up a dictionary and write out sentences incorporating words you've never come across before."

Ultimately, this book is about finding who you are and being comfortable with your unique self. It is only then that you will enjoy what you do at work as in life.


Four insights

  • People with low affiliation: grow your network, join sports teams, charity groups, clubs and community groups.
  • People with high affiliation: you are a people person, but it is important to listen to what people say. Then decide when to speak – if at all.
  • People with low drive: write down what you want your life to look like in 10 years, listing all the steps to make it happen. Then pick an easy action and do it today.
  • People with high drive: you may push yourself to heroic lengths, but others may not like to be pushed. Learn how to coach and explain. Unleash the potential in others through praise.

 

 

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