Consider this: if you pose the question, “Will you grow the most in your areas of strength, or your areas of weakness?” to different countries around the world, every single one of them will have a majority choose “weaknesses” over “strengths.”
They couldn’t be more wrong. If you want to grow – if you want to be successful in any way in your career, your relationships, your life – you’ve got to focus on strengths, and manage around your weaknesses. This is true for two reasons:
- We should all be characterizing ourselves based on who we are, rather than what we lack. I hope you wouldn’t stay in a relationship with a person who is fixated on your flaws and how to improve them – yet so many of us have that relationship with ourselves. Start with your strengths, and learn how to contribute them. It’s the healthiest, most productive, and most generous relationship you can have with yourself.
- Beyond the emotional benefits, you’ll also see the most return on investment if you invest your time in your strengths. You can grow incrementally in your areas of weakness, but research has proven you’ll grow exponentially in your areas of strength.
First, it’s important that you understand exactly what a strength is: it’s not something that you’re good at, just like a weakness isn’t something that you’re bad at. A strength is an activity that strengthens you. That you look forward to doing. It’s an activity that leaves you feeling energized, rather than depleted. We all have things that we’re good at, but that we hate doing, right? Those are called weaknesses.
A strength is more appetite than ability, and it’s that appetite that drives us to want to do it again; practice more; refine it to perfection. The appetite leads to the practice, which leads to performance. Leveraging your strengths and managing around your weaknesses isn’t just about making yourself feel better. It’s about conditioning yourself to contribute the best of yourself, every day. It’s about performance.
Every one of us has unique strengths. And every one of us will contribute more when we take our strengths seriously, and intelligently leverage them for the benefit of the world.