Tips on how to be the best you can be.
The greatest potential for growth and development lies in the areas where you have a natural talent to start with. The more time you spend building on who you already are, the faster you will grow. This is often counter-intuitive for organizations and leaders as the focus is often on helping improve and raise their performance in areas where they are weak and at risk. It is often counter-intuitive for people who believe that they can aspire to be anything they want to be – at 5’8” I may aspire to play professional basketball, but no matter how skilled I may become I will always lack the necessary height to compete effectively.
Where Do You Focus to Be Great? Focusing on Your Strengths, Weaknesses or Everything
So where should you focus your efforts? Let’s look at the following three areas – weaknesses, everything and your strengths.
Focusing on Your Weaknesses
When we address a weakness, we are looking at an area where we are currently performing below the level of performance that is expected. We spend time, effort, resources and money on this and we raise the level of performance – but only to the expected level of performance. This can be seen in the diagram below. The risk here is that, despite your best efforts, this may not be sustainable as once the pressure is on the individuals they may revert to their old habits and the weaknesses will reassert themselves.
Focusing on Everything
If you spend most of your life trying to be good at everything, you eliminate your chances of being great at anything. If you spend most of your life trying to be good at everything, you eliminate your chances of being great at anything. The best you can hope to achieve is mediocrity. Not what you really want to achieve.
Focusing on Strengths
Starting with what you are naturally good at is a matter of efficiency and an efficient use of your time. Every hour you invest in an area where you have natural talent has a multiplying effect, whereas each hour you spend trying to remedy a weakness is like working against a gravitational force. Yet many people spend years or even decades working on weaknesses in hopes that doing so will make them well-rounded
In this second chart, we are looking to build on and leverage strengths. Currently, we are operating the level of performance that is expected. We spend time, effort, resources and money on building this and we raise the level of performance – to a level of performance significantly above that which is expected. As this is a strength and a good habit that is in place, it is likely that this improvement will be sustainable – even when the pressure is on the individuals. Here people are working smarter, not harder, in a way that is aligned with what they do well in making it sustainable.
Starting with your natural talents — then investing time in practicing, building skills, and increasing knowledge — yields a much greater return.
Gallup’s research suggests that when you use your strengths, you can double your number of high-quality work hours per week from 20 to 40. It also reveals that people who focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to have high levels of overall life satisfaction.
So look at you and your team and identify where your strengths are. Also, understand where the team’s collective strengths and weaknesses are – here you can identify how to leverage strengths to overcome weaknesses (rather than trying to ‘fix’ them). Develop a plan, with your team, on how you can leverage your respective strengths and use people so they are engaged, productive and effective – and help them find meaning in what they do.
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