Playing to Your Strengths

2009 October 8

gata no espelho
Creative Commons License photo credit: Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes

If the rows and rows of self-help books at the local bookstore are to be believed, we should all be trying to improve ourselves in various ways every moment of every day. And sure, there’s something to be said for allowing yourself to evaluate your own skills and characteristics with unflinching honesty and making efforts to improve areas that matter, especially if something you do (or don’t do) negatively affects other people.

But a post in the wonderful blog Dumb Little Man puts forth that, for greatest gain, we should concentrate on our strengths, not our weaknesses:

It’s so intuitive – “I’m worst at tasks involving my weaknesses, so my greatest potential for development is in these areas. If I work on those things, I’ll become rounded!” Too bad it’s incorrect. Your strengths represent your natural ways of responding to the world; by going ‘with the grain’, instead of against it, you’ll find it easier to perform the amount of practice necessary to reach expertise in your chosen field.

It’s such a great observation, and so easy to overlook. After all, it’s easier to build on momentum than to counteract inertia. I give this advice to my clients when it comes to marketing, as well: concentrate on what’s going right, and figure out how to piggyback off of that in as many ways as possible.

What’s more, as they point out further into the article:

strengths-use leads to happiness. Achieving this happiness means both finding tasks that are suited to your strengths, and finding ways to involve your strengths into the tasks that you do.

Does this mean you shouldn’t look in the proverbial mirror every so often and give yourself a good hard review for potential areas of improvement? Not at all. But it does suggest that the majority of your time is best spent developing your talents and becoming even more of a rockstar at them.

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One Response leave one →
  1. 2009 October 8

    A consultant once told me, “Find out what you do well and do it; and find out what you don’t do well and don’t do it.” This why I have always believed the “performance review” as executed by most companies/organizations is poppycock. Certainly, folks need to know how they’re doing. But invariably, PR’s get boiled down to “scores” on some sort of “competencies” list, instead of meaningful conversations about what folks are doing well, what’s fulfilling, and so on. A natural reaction to a low “score” is to want to improve it. It rarely occurs to proponents of these types of reviews that the low scores themselves may be meaningless.

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