What were you good at in school?
I loved history. It’s like a never-ending Game Of Thrones episode. Kings fighting for the throne, women flouting conventions to be in charge of their destinies, revolutions destroying entire societies, love, betrayals, heroic deeds…
Taking an history test was like being asked to talk about GOT. I knew everything.
But… no one cared.
All I heard was, “Stop wasting so much time on history. You’re already good at it. Focus on math. That’s your Achilles’ heel.”
It’s true I sacked at math. Numbers have never been my forte. But focusing on it never did me much good. Ok, I improved enough to barely pass the test – and forgot everything I learned as soon as I handed in the paper.
Worse, all that working on my weakness took time away from my strenght: storytelling.
I knew they meant well but I can’t help but believe that if my family and teachers had nurtured my strengths, I’d already have published 10 historical novels by now.
That’s the power of focusing on your strengths. You become so good at something, you reach your goals faster. People notice you and help you rise to the top. You become unstoppable.
It’s not just my opinion. Marcus Buckingham, author of “Now, Discover Your Strengths” has spent years studying people’s performance and quickly realised that those who get ahead do it by improving their strengths – NOT their weaknesses.
What Are Your Strengths?
A strength is “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.” Something you do so well, and enjoy so much, you’re a “natural” at it.
A strength is the sum of:
- Knowledge: facts and lessons learned. What you know.
- Skills: the series of steps you take to put your knowledge into practice. It’s designed to be easily transferable from person to person.
- Talent: a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behaviour that can be productively applied. You know you’ve found a talent when learning something is fun and easy.
Now that you know what strengths are, all you need to do is find yours and do some damage control. Here’s what I mean:
[click_to_tweet tweet=”The secret to success? Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.” quote=”The secret to success? Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.”]
Step 1: Find Your Strengths
Chances are you already know at least a couple of your strengths. They’re things you excel at and enjoy so much you could do them all day long.
But if you’re struggling, or want to make sure, you can take the StrengthsFinder test. If you managed to get your hands on an old, unused copy of the book, use the code there to take the test for free. If not, there’s a small fee.
I paid the fee and it was worth every penny. Not only the test tells you what your strengths are, it also gives you lots of tips and strategies to make the most of them both at work and in your private life.
So even if you know what your strengths are, taking the test will give you lots of ideas to use them to reach your goals.
According to the StrengthsFinder test, my top 5 strengths are:
- Context: researching the past to understand the present.
- Deliberative: taking a lot of time to make decisions; anticipating obstacles.
- Intellection: introspective; enjoy intellectual discussions.
- Learner: desire to learn and continuously improve.
- Input: craving to know more; collect and archive all kinds of information.
Is it any wonder that I’ve turned into a writer of self-help and historical fiction? 😉
P.S. “Now Discover Your Strengths” doesn’t help you find your strengths. It just tells you why focusing on your strengths is more effective than focusing on your weakness and provides a brief overview of all 34 strengths. Read them all and try guessing what yours are before taking the test!
Step 2: Manage Your Weaknesses
I know what you’re thinking. It doesn’t matter what job you do or what goal you want to achieve, from time to time you’ll need to do things you’re not that good at. You’ll need to use your weaknesses.
Take writing, for example. It’s not enough to write a damn good book to make it a success. You also need to promote it. One way to do it is social media. Another is public speaking. I suck at both.
So, logic has it, I should focus on those weaknesses so I can improve them and have a bestselling book, right?
That’s one way to do it. But it’s a way that takes too much time away from your strengths. Instead. Buckingham suggests better ways to manage your weaknesses:
- Design a support system
- Find a partner
- Use your strengths to overwhelm your weaknesses
- Just stop doing it
- When all else fails, work on your weakness until you get decent (not great!) at it
Wrapping It Up
Build a life around your strengths. Find out what you’re a “natural” at and double down on it. Get help to manage your weaknesses so they won’t stand in the way. Slay all your goals.