Play to your strengths

So often in life we seem to focus on our faults, failings and shortcomings with the belief that by focusing on these we can learn how to change them, acquire new skills to overcome them, and become more well-rounded, successful or an even a better person!

The truth is that, whilst increased awareness may well be useful, the more we focus on our weaknesses the longer our strengths and talents go unnoticed and unused. We are much more likely to be successful and happy when we play to our unique strengths and talents and, instead of spending time and energy trying to be like everyone else, focus on developing, refining and applying those skills and talents we are naturally suited to.

There is also compelling evidence from the world of neuroscience that if we concentrate on things which make us feel good about ourselves, we are more creative, solutions focused and open to new ideas than if we spend all our time thinking about the things that we are not so good at – especially if this involves a level of frustration, disappointment or discomfort.

Let me ask you this: If you employed a sales person with a superb track record of face to face sales, would you stick them in the accounts department and expect a good outcome?

So, just as you wouldn’t expect a talented artist to develop the same skill set as a brain surgeon, nor the brain surgeon to become the next Picasso, why would you put pressure on yourself to be brilliant at everything at the expense of your own natural talents?

When we begin to appreciate the personal strengths of both ourselves and our teams we can begin to appreciate our assets more and recognise that it’s not about relentlessly trying to become better people – we are already full of potential. By taking this on board we are then free to choose which talents and skills to practice, develop and refine, without threat to our sense of self-worth.

Unfortunately many people have little awareness of what their true strengths are – they probably haven’t given it much thought.  In fact most of us find it easier to list our short comings than our strengths! If you’d like to understand more about your own personal strengths have a go at these simple exercises:

Your Confidence List

Create a Personal Inventory of your personal skills, achievements and assets. Your assets are those things that represent your strengths and offer value to your business, your employer, your colleagues or your customers.

Either on your own or with a friend or colleague list your strengths under each of the following headings; Experience, Knowledge, Skills, Qualities, Achievements, Reputation – both at work and in your wider life.

You’d better have quite a few sheets of paper ready for this one – I promise there will be a lot to write down!  You can use this list to help focus on your strengths.  Keep it to hand and if you are not at your most resourceful at any time, revisit the list and remind yourself just how good you really are!

An Outside View

Maybe you are a little too close to appreciate all your strengths, so why not ask 7 people who know you (they can be friends, family, colleagues, customers etc.) to tell you what they see as your Unique Skills and Abilities.

Don’t be reticent or concerned here – just imagine how good you’ll feel once you’ve received all the positive feedback!

Remember… if you are a rabbit you will run well, if you are a duck, you will be good at swimming.  When was the last time you saw a duck beat a rabbit on land or a rabbit a duck on water?  I rest my case!

Will you build on YOUR strengths going forward?