CM 181: Dan Cable On Unlocking Your Potential
Play • 54 min
For a good part of my life, I believed that focusing on my weaknesses was the key to achieving success. In fact, I didn't realize how much I'd embraced this way of thinking until I began working with an executive coach.

Soon after we started working together, my coach made an observation I've never forgotten. She said, "Gayle, you're great at pointing out your weaknesses - all the ways you feel you don't measure up - but I never hear you talk about your strengths." That's when I realized how this way of thinking had become my default setting. I had to work hard to change it.

That's why, when I picked up Dan Cable's latest book, Exceptional: Build Your Personal Highlight Reel and Unlock Your Potential, I knew I wanted to have him back on the show. He captured my old way of thinking with his first sentence, "Many of us think the best path to self-improvement is to face the cold truth about ourselves at our worst."

Yet, what Dan quickly points out is that, far from motivating us, this relentless focus on identifying and fixing our weaknesses can create a lot of anxiety, along with feelings of overwhelm, even helplessness. That sounds like a far cry from a path to success, right?

Dan's a Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School. Since his last book, Alive at Work, he's been studying what happens when we uncover our strengths through others' eyes, through current and former colleagues, bosses, friends, and family members. Dan's approach is fascinating and his research findings are incredible.

Episode Links

You Need a Personal Highlight Reel by Dan Cable

What You Should Follow Instead of Your Passion by Dan Cable

Stop Sleepwalking through Life by Dan Cable and Mel Bradman

Alive at Work by Dan Cable

Post-traumatic growth

What Job Crafting Looks Like by Jane E. Dutton and Amy Wrzesniewski

Impostor Syndrome

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