“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” Marilyn Vos Savant.
As part of the process when I start coaching a new client I ask them to tell me about themselves. Over the years many people have responded to this by telling me what they aren’t very good at and what they don’t want to experience or achieve in life.
Interestingly, very few people describe what they are good at or what they want to experience and achieve in life. It’s very rare for people to be able to articulate their top strengths. Most people are generally modest and reluctant to talk about their strengths. However, they can easily detail their weaknesses or development needs.
Why are we conditioned to think and talk in this way? In doing so, we may be denying ourselves the opportunity to grow and realise our potential. It’s possible that we adopt this approach because we’re encouraged at an early age to work hard on our weak areas and things that we aren’t good at.
I guess that another reason may be because there’s so much negativity in our cultures. We have school reports that highlight areas for improvement, annual performance reviews that are slanted towards development needs. There are also advertisements that play on people’s fears and promote products that address a problem.
I often wonder what people are missing out on in life by focusing their attention on negatives and improvements rather than playing to their strengths. What impact does it have on the productivity and profitability of businesses by failing to focus on their employee’s strengths?
For many years, I’ve held the view that one of the vital roles of a leader is to identify and nurture their team’s strengths and ensure that they put round pegs in round holes.
We all have strengths and natural talents as well as areas where we’re not so strong. Having a clear understanding of our strengths helps us to build self – esteem and confidence. It enables us to have a greater appreciation of the value that we bring to tasks, families, teams and our relationships.
Your strengths could be your people, influencing, organisation, planning or creativity skills. They may include your ability to apply yourself in a disciplined and consistent manner or reliability to get things done. They might be your talent to empathise with others, your intuition or ability to visualise outcomes etc.
I often ask clients what the positive effect on their results and life would be if they had clarity on their core strengths and played to them. Instead of expending time and effort focused on what they aren’t good at and what’s not working. This provides some encouragement to make some changes to their daily habits and behaviours.
I’ve found that when people gain a greater understanding of their strengths and the value they bring to the world they experience greater happiness, fulfilment and increased self-worth. Surely that’s sufficient motivation and incentive to gain more personal insight in this area.
I recommend you dedicate some time developing a list of your top 5 strengths. Once you’ve gained this clarity you can devise some concrete action steps to ensure you use them more often. I’ve found that some people don’t find it easy to come up with their own list. Where it’s proving to be testing, I encourage them to seek input from family members, colleagues or friends.
It’s best to approach people who know you well and can be trusted to give helpful, supportive and honest feedback. Quite often others see our positive qualities and contributions more easily than we do ourselves.
This process helps shine a light on blind spots and helps to positively build self-awareness.
You can ask those closest to you to answer the following questions:
There are also external resources that you can use. For example, the Clifton strengths finder assessment takes about 30 minutes to complete online. It will provide you with your top 5 strengths and a detailed summary. It costs US $19.99 (about £16). This and can be purchased at www.gallupstrengthscenter.com
As with muscles which build with exercise, your strengths will get stronger and more effective the more you use and apply them. It’s likely you will flourish and discover and use more of your potential.
A final thought. Imagine the impact on society if all individuals and teams had a greater appreciation of their own and colleague’s strengths and were encouraged to play to them. I believe there would be higher levels of satisfaction and happiness. Teams would become more engaged and generate better results. I’m sure that the world would be a more energised and positive place to live in.
This week, why not pause for a moment to reflect and consider if you have clarity on your core strengths and what action you can take to use them more.
To arrange a free no obligation consultation, please contact Stephen Pauley via the contact form or by e mail: Stephen@befirstclass.co.uk