Discovering your Strengths in 2012

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A lot of people fail to maximise their strengths because (a) they don’t know their strengths and (b) they erroneously believe that their strengths will take care of themselves and focus their attention on their weaknesses. The late Peter Drucker stated that a person can only perform from a position of strength. One can’t build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one can’t do at all.  He argued that you should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. This is because it usually takes far more energy and effort to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. 

According to Marcus Buckingham, a strength is not merely something you are good at. In fact it might be something which you are not good at yet. It is something that you find intrinsically satisfying and you also look forward to doing it again and again and getting better at it over time.  While a weakness is not merely something you are bad at because you might even be good at it. It is something that drains you of energy, an activity that you never look forward to doing and when you are doing it, all you can think about is stopping it.

In order to play to your strengths, you have to be aware of your strengths. Drucker in his seminal Harvard Business Review article, managing oneself, argued that the only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis. He proposed that whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, you should write down what you expect will happen. You should then compare actual results with your expectations in nine or 12 months time. He believed that this simple method would show (1) what you are doing or failing to do that deprives you of the full benefits of your strengths. (2) It will show you where you are not particularly competent. (3) It will show you where you have no strengths and can’t perform.

Once you have discovered your strengths in 2012 then you need to spend time developing and playing to them.

6 replies on “Discovering your Strengths in 2012”

In life, it is important to know both your strengths and your weaknesses. Why? They are important to a person who wishes to improve themselves. A strength may be a skill that one enjoys utilizing and maybe inherently gifted at, but it needs honing and practice to take it to the level where it becomes helpful to the person or to others. The gift of oratory whilst an innate gift, still requires practice to get to the level where it is helpful I.e. In Obama’s case. Weakness are important to know for it can then be worked on (whether or not it takes energy) and can get to the point where it is no longer a liability but a strength. Time keeping can be a weakness, not every body can afford a secretary to help with it and thus an improvement is needed. It a skill that must be worked on to become a strength. There are certain weakness that are not necessary weakness more just areas where others are gifted and for the person to seek those with such gifts. E.g. In church some are gifted singers or good at playing different instruments. Not having such skills is not a weakness but just an area to acknowledge that others need to fill in instead.
Summary, strength are good but must be improved on. Areas of weakness are important to know because they can be improved on, thereby making a man a better man, husband or business partner or leader and fir women also.

Thanks Vince. I plan to talk further in my next post concerning some of the things you mentioned. You raised some interesting examples in your comment which are worth noting.

What if your strength can’t put food on the table, only that which supposedly drains you does??

I would argue that you need to develop your strength to a level where people are willing to pay you for it. Folks make money from every conceivable means imaginable and I believe that your strength can also be monetized. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to invest the time, money and effort to make your strength a money making venture. This requires discipline and wholehearted commitment. It means your free time will be spent honing and developing your strength. The goal is convert it from potential to performance. I believe that your strength will only put food on the table if it solves problems for others. No one will pay you if what you do, does not solve a problem for them. There comes a time when your strength demands the entrepreneurial leap of faith where you take the ultimate risk in order to take it to the next level. This might mean leaving the shackles of a job in order to have the freedom to monetize a strength. A lot of people are unwilling to do this.

Hmm…Prof, I don’t know about this one. I mean, as a student what I am concerned about and what is highlighted in my mind are those areas of weakness. For instance, no tutor will talk to you about a good essay. However, let one of the essays ‘go wrong’ and you might have a meeting or two to attend so you can discuss the way forward.
My point is that it’s not as straightforward as simply focusing on strengths. If I spend time on my strengths alone, I’ll end up with even weaker weaknesses, right? Hmm…

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