Work with your strengths
I have spent the majority of my life trying, unsuccessfully, to eliminate or at least drastically improve on my flaws and weaknesses. I was frustrated and constantly down on myself. Some of these flaws, as it turned out, aren’t even flaws. They are personality traits. A couple months ago I wrote about being an introvert and how my perspective on it had changed from feeling like I was flawed and inadequate because I’m not a wildly social creature and despise small talk and mingling, to being proud of my powers of quiet observation and introspective ways. As soon as I stopped trying to fix what I thought was wrong with me and started recognizing and using my strengths, every single area of my life improved massively.
At the end of the day no matter how much time and energy you spend working to make their weaknesses less of a weakness, they are still always going to be weaknesses and you are never going to bring yourself success through that process. Strengths, on the other hand, will grow exponentially more powerful in your life if you work hard at building on a cultivating them. It’s a whole different ballgame. When you take something that you’re already naturally good at and work on getting better at it, the rewards are innumerable. You actually enjoy the process and build confidence as you see results.
When you focus on your weaknesses, all you succeed in is spotlighting everything that you’re not. It’s impossible to feel good about yourself when you are expending all your energy on correcting your flaws. The same goes for comparing yourself to other people’s gifts and talents. It’s exhausting and it only serves to highlight the areas where you feel you don’t add up. One way or another, if you want to move beyond average and mediocre in your life, you simply have to accept yourself as you are. Once you do that, you can start to celebrate and build on your strengths and everything that makes you uniquely you.
You may just find, as you build on what you’re naturally geared towards, that the stuff you struggle with in your life becomes less. I’ve certainly found that to be true. It goes back to what I talked about in the post on adding positive instead of
subtracting negative. Do more of the stuff that utilizes your strengths and your weakness will likely diminish in a big way. When there’s so much awesomeness going on, there’s simply less room for shit. And like it or not, your weaknesses are part of who you are, just as your strengths are, and fighting them every day is like swimming against the current. Stop wasting your energy!
Just a side note here – please understand that this does not give you license to be a total knob. Just because you are disorganized and suck at following up with people doesn’t mean you get to just throw up your hands and say Oh well, that’s just not something I’m good at, too bad, suck it! If your stumbling blocks are things that affect others or will have a negative impact on your business, for heaven sake, invest in some tools and technologies that can help make up for where you really fall short. And don’t completely abandon working on those areas. What I’m talking about here is concentrating 75-80% of your attention and energy on the stuff you’re good at and leaving 20-25% for what you kinda suck at.
If, at this point, you’re just not sure what your strengths are, don’t sweat it! There are some really easy ways to figure it out:
- Make a list of things you really enjoy doing. As you’re noting what you like to do, ask yourself what it is about each activity you enjoy. Quite often, the answer will reveal a variety of strengths and passions. For example, I like to bake and cook. Not only do I like the activity itself, I also love cooking and baking for people. It’s an act of service for me. It’s a way for me to take care of people and show them that I love them. And that’s one of my strengths…I’m generous and love doing things to help others and make them happy.
- Ask the people closest to you what you’re good at. Friends and family can be the greatest mirror into who we are. Get them to list the top 3 or 4 things that really stand out about you, their favourite things about you.
- Think back to some compliments you’ve received in your life. Those are usually indicative of where you genuinely excel.
- Journal about your day or just spend some time reflecting what the highlights were. At some point did you lose track of time because you were so engrossed in what you were doing?
Once you have an idea of what’s great about you, now comes the fun part…pursuing strength building activities! Read books devoted to the traits you are strong in. Connect with other people who demonstrate those same strengths. Look for Meetup groups that have activities geared towards your strengths. Volunteer for an organization that will utilize those abilities. There are endless possibilities and you will no doubt get some new hobbies and friends out of it!