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.