Focus on Your Strengths

By | December 17, 2012

We live in a world today that is focused on fixing our weaknesses. From early on in life we are taught, in school and other ways, to compare ourselves and our standing with others, which is all fine and good. But we focus a disproportionate amount of time on fixing our weaknesses. If we instead focused actively and daily on knowing and better honing our unique strengths and abilities in life, we would lead a more fulfilled and happy life.

Now consider two scenarios.

What if you were given a list of 5 things you sucked at, things that you did really poorly, and told to fix them? What if these were things you dreaded doing? Would you jump up, select an item from the list and dive head first into tackling and fixing that weakness? I know I for one would not enjoy spending the time I spent on these areas where I knew I wasn’t good. I know I would be discouraged and have trouble finding motivation to work on these areas.

This is the path of most resistance.

Now consider if you were given a list of 5 things that you rock at? These were things you knew you did very well, and the time flew by when you were doing these activities. Wouldn’t you want to spend more of your time focusing on these things, on honing and improving in these areas? I know I would.

And yet, this is what our culture tells us to do, time and again. We should spend time fixing our weaknesses rather than honing our strengths.

If you focus on areas where you are strong and actively work to improve in those areas, you will increase your engagement in what you are doing. If you are more actively engaged in what you are doing, your sense of fulfillment will increase. And increased fulfillment leads directly to increased happiness.

So okay, what exactly are my strengths? You probably already have a good idea what they are, but it is immensely helpful to have an objective analysis of your strengths.

I am working through a personal development course at Free Agent Academy (affiliate). They recommend and use the StrengthsFinder 2.0 (affiliate) assessment and book. This material is based on the work of the late Strengths Psychologist Dr. Clifton. It focuses on a 40 year study of human strengths, and has crafted a list of 34 most common talents. Through an online assessment, your distinct talents are identified for you. I highly recommend getting this book and taking the assessment:

My top theme areas regarding strengths are: Context, Learner, Individualization, Connectedness and Relator.

For instance, on my strength theme Context, this tells me that I am passionate about understanding the backstory, the history about any situation I enter. When I start up a new project, I will be more productive if I take the time to learn what has happened in similar projects before. This doesn’t necessarily tell me I should be a historian, but that I will tend to look for the backstory in every situation.

It has been helpful for me in the real world. First, I have known for years that I have this theme running in me. But it’s been good to know it is such a strong theme, and that others do not have it quite so strongly. I now realize that other folks may or may not care quite so much about understanding the full backstory, but that it’s important to me. So, for instance, I may not take an entire group’s time to get the story behind a current situation, but will seek out other ways to engage in this and get the info I need to move forward.

It’s so unfortunate that so many of us go through our lives without truly understanding our strengths and knowing better who we are. Instead of following the path of most resistance, we should focus on and improve areas we are strong and follow the path of least resistance. If you applied this today, and proactively engaged in focusing on and honing your strengths, and you would take a step toward living a happy and more fulfilled life.

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