Love, Work and Red Threads

I recently read a new book by Marcus Buckingham entitled Love + Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your LifeBuckingham is one of the creators of the renowned StrengthsFinder assessment and a leading researcher on strengths and human performance.

Love + Work book cover

I’m a business coach who often works with people seeking career changes and with entrepreneurs wanting to transform their businesses to regain the joy and passion they once had. In reading Love + Work I was struck by the author’s concept of “red threads.” These are activities that we love and that we are either mastering or have mastered. When we are engaged in them we disappear. We totally lose track of time. Red threads are our superpowers, and because they come so easily to us we often downplay their significance. But when we are performing red thread activities, we are in the flow.

This concept is fascinating to me, because, as Buckingham has found, if you are engaged in 20% red thread activities during your day, “you are far less likely to experience burnout…(and) if you have a chance to do something you love each and every day (even if you aren’t good at it yet), you are 3.6 times more likely to be highly resilient.”

It seems that finding love in what you do is the key to happiness at work.

Here are a few questions from Love + Work (p. 78) to answer to help you discover your own red threads:

When was the last time…

  • you lost track of time?
  • you were singled out for praise?
  • you found yourself actively looking forward to work?
  • you came up with a new way of doing things?
  • you wanted the activity to never end?”

From Love and Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life ( by Marcus Buckingham. Harvard Business Review Press, 2022.

Once you’ve uncovered your red threads, see if you can incorporate them at work and at home. If there are no red threads at work, maybe it’s time to reassess your career.

One of my red threads is helping clients get to the essence of a situation or problem quickly. Another is helping people generate new, creative solutions in areas in which they’ve been stuck.

If you are ready for coaching, contact me. I’d love to have a conversation.