I once participated in a very eye opening exercise. I was asked to make two columns, and write down 6 of my greatest personal strengths, and 6 of my biggest weaknesses. Then I was asked to pick 5 characteristics that I would most like to see change over the next year.
I went straight to the weakness column, I didn’t think twice about it. Until afterwards, when I started to wonder, why didn’t I focus on further improving my strengths? The answer: I am so used to trying to improve and overcome my weaknesses, that I didn’t think about the benefits of focusing on my strengths.
If you are anything like me, you spend lots of time and energy trying to improve your perceived weaknesses. Maybe you read books, take courses, hire coaches and tutors. You struggle and wrestle with these weaknesses. The question is, how far do you get? If you had written this list every year for the past 5 years, would the weakness list have stayed the same? I know mine would.
I consider organization, or lack thereof, to be one of my weaknesses. If you could see my desk, you would completely agree. Over the years, I have purchased books about getting organized and taken courses. I have implemented various systems and used tools. But the fact remains, organization has not moved off of my weakness list.
My lack of organization and my inability to significantly improve it used to frustrate the heck out of me. When I focused on it, it was hard for me to move forward and get things done. I doubted my ability to be successful, because I couldn’t even organize my desk.
And then I decided to accept that organization does not come naturally or easily to me, and it never will. I hired a professional organizer, got rid of the debilitating clutter, and put a few systems in place. The piles and the clutter still come back from time to time, but I no longer worry about it, or tell myself over and over again that “I have to get organized.” I know that someone who is much better at it than I am can help me, and that thought is very freeing! It also frees my mind up to be productive and innovative.
The effects of focusing on building on your strengths, instead of improving your weaknesses, can be extremely powerful. The power comes from the type of energy created when you focus on your strengths, vs. the energy that occurs when you focus on your weaknesses.
When you put your attention to something that you think you’re not good at, how do you feel? If you struggle to improve it, or worse, continually think about improving but don’t do anything about it, what does your energy level feel like? Even if you do make some improvements, how significant are they?
The energy created by frustration, self doubt and anxiety will cloud your mind. You don’t perform at your true potential, because your brain is cluttered by negative thoughts and feelings. It’s hard to be creative and productive when you feel this way.
On the other hand, how do you feel when you focus on what you’re good at? If you want to perform at a high level, try identifying your strengths, and set a goal to get even better at them. The energy created by the feelings of competence and success that you experience will propel you forward, to greater and greater achievement. You will feel like you are at the top of your game, and you will be. You will make significant progress, and you will stand out in your industry and your life as extraordinary at what you do. Picture that, and tell me how you feel!