Staying Calm in the Chaos

Knowing your strengths and letting them know you…

Not all workplaces are as inspiring as mine…

This is only my second weeknote since starting the Deloitte Digital Connect programme. It’s been hard to keep this as a discipline — partly, because I am not very good at reflecting on success and partly I’m not as good at managing all of my time as well as I should. (More on this later). As a remote worker, and working in a digital discipline, this is also exceptionally hard and opportunities to work collaboratively feel over-engineered or insincere (especially if I’m the only one that is getting anything from the situation). Sometimes though, work does just get in the way of all the tasks and goals that you set yourself. Since starting on the programme this has often been the case. Too little time and too much to do. This weeknote is my reflection on what to do about it.

Work, rest and play — Focus on Strengths then Relax

When work doesn’t feel like work though you know that you have achieved some level of enlightenment or at least what they used to call ‘job satisfaction’. A few things happened to me in the last few weeks that I did want to reflect on, maybe another collaborator will find synergy or it will add a little more to the neurodiversity discussion that certainly needs more air time.

1. Focus on strengths

At my charity, we’ve been very lucky to be offered a ‘free’ strengths profile assessment. Free to me as I haven’t had to pay for the premium service. It’s inspiring to see the value that my organisation has placed on completing this exercise — not just for a few individuals, or a team or cohort of participants — but for everyone. The aim is to identify where we collectively are strongest, where we need to train and coach colleagues or where we may need to recruit talent around missing strengths.

Whilst this is progressive for some, for me, it’s an awakening to the new normal. Why? Because I have ADHD, Attention Deficit Disorder. I was diagnosed late in life and to be honest, always wondered why I was so different from other people. What I have been able to realise is that what makes me different is what makes me strong. I’m creative, I can think through multiple possibilities simultaneously and I’m as such a natural problem solver. Perfect for a digital leader.

It also makes me a good coach (and this is genuine feedback, not pure ego!) When I reflected on this for my appraisal I realised that I’m used to thinking about what I say (ADHD folk can be quite impulsive) and this discipline has made me reflective about people’s perception of feedback and to learn to be more empathic. As such I have distilled years of experience into this basic mantra around strengths — work, rest and play. Work on the areas that you know need tweaking, but rest the areas that would require too much effort to improve, play with the strengths that you possess, see how you can use them in multiple scenarios.

2. Abilities need exercise, just like muscles

I touched on job satisfaction above, and as I sit to write this weeknote (or more accurately ‘monthnote’) I’ve reflected on how closely the strengths that you use when you enjoy work, sometimes aren’t given the opportunity to showcase themselves as much as you’d like. Most jobs, or indeed careers, aren’t solely focussed on doing the things you like or the things you are good at. Even an artist has to demonstrate other skills to promote themselves, sell their work and manage the books.

However, when you do get the opportunities to really focus on your strengths it can be so rewarding. Like your legs after a spin class, that warmth, the energy that spills out is the key indicator that you’ve had a good work out. The last few weeks seem to have been a succession of these for me, and even better, each opportunity has spawned another. Hopefully, this is an ongoing scenario.

3. And sleep!

Even whilst I write this I am also mindful of the one thing that my brain will need, but as a child in the sweetshop, won’t know until it’s too late. Sleep… Like many with ADHD, there are many ‘co-morbidities’ and insomnia is up there for me as one of the worst. My reflective self knows full well that all of the good advice above is coming from a position of focusing on the moment and this task (ADHD folk can be super-focussed on the things they get hormonal rewards for!) In practice, it won’t behave when it comes to putting it into practice.

It’s the one thing that has been the thread of my diagnosis. Structure — especially around time management and routines (including bedtimes) is a must. It’s hard, but I’m looking forward to my reflections next week (or month) as it’s a stark reminder that I need to work on improving that strength which we all find difficult, discipline.

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Sharing experiences from participants on Deloitte Digital Connect, a five-month programme providing 32 charities with expertise and a network to support their digital development. A Deloitte 5M Futures initiative, in partnership with CAST.

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Robbie Maverick

Digital, data and technology driven disruptor

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