Imagine back to when you were in the eighth grade.
If you’d come home with your report card, and you had received:
What would the likely response of your parents have been?
If you’re like many, it would have been, “You’ve got to spend more time on your History class! You’ve got to improve there!”
How different would it have been to have heard, “Wow–an A+ in Math! You must really enjoy Math and work very hard at it to get do so well. Since you can achieve so much with your effort in Math, let’s look into some advanced level class you can take to get even better!”
It’s doubtful you would have had this second conversation.
For most of us, conversation #1 was the conventional wisdom. We were to fix or weaknesses, rather than focus on excelling on our strengths. Yet, research in the last 10 years would suggest that the weakness-based focus is the wrong choice.
The fact is, people who are “world-class”, whether it’s playing an instrument, researching biology, shooting a basketball, or any other endeavor excel in a limited band of focus: their strength.
They have gotten this good because they have narrowed down their concentration to this one particular area.
Because of this, their results are off the charts. For example, the Gallup organization reports top producing salespeople (in the top 25% of their companies’ sales force) sell four times to ten times as much as the average.
When it comes to discovering your strengths, they may be things that you’ve known all along. What come to you easily, that takes a lot of effort for others?
I have a friend, Marjorie, who tells a great story about strengths.
Marjorie has three adult children, 2 sons and one daughter. Marjorie says,
My kids have been who they were supposed to be ever since they were little.
My oldest son, Nico, loved to play with Legos when he was a kid. He could spend hours and hours playing with them. He now works for Lego as a designer.
My middle child, Samantha, was always organizing play dates as a toddler, and then, she’d organize trips for the student council in high school. She’s now a professional event planner.
And my youngest, Liam, loved nothing more than to bounce on a trampoline that we had. He’s now a lead guitarist in a heavy metal band.
Strengths are there for us. What we need to do is pay attention to them.
If you’re interested in taking a strengths survey, one of the most popular is Gallup’s StrengthsFinder.
How can you play to your strengths today?
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