I am a huge believer that if you want to work towards becoming great at something, you should focus on what you are already more naturally gifted in rather than your weaknesses. People often come into my line of work and say, just do everything: door knock, cold call, open houses, networking, the whole shebang and you’ll be successful. Of course, I had to try these things to figure out which of them I was good at. I had a great distaste towards door knocking and each time I went, I unknowingly carried that behavior with me. Truth is, I also disliked cold calling, but it turns out I had a greater strength there so I began to focus on it. Each day I got better and with each conversation, my skills became honed and my conversion ratio went up. Now, I’m not saying ignore your weaknesses. No no no, you must know your weaknesses so that you can better know yourself but if you had the choice between working on your strengths and becoming great or working on your weaknesses and becoming average, which would you choose? The key is to manage your weaknesses so they don’t become obstacles to excellence.
Parents and schools push children to be well rounded and good at everything. Is this the proper way? If a child is bad at spelling and great at math, do you keep shoving words down their throats until they get it correct or do you go the other way and focus more on math until their talents start to shine? You want to challenge your children but do so in a way that inspires them to work towards growth and success. If you keep focusing on weaknesses, they will feel that they are failures because they constantly find themselves falling short.
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” -John Wooden
A study done by Clifton StrengthsFinder assessments and Gallup’s studies showed when people use their strengths to do what they do best…
- The less likely they are to report experiencing physical pain, worry, stress, anger or sadness the prior day, even when they have health problems.
- The more likely they are to report a boost in positive emotions such as enjoyment and happiness and report having ample energy, feeling well-rested, being happy, smiling or laughing a lot, learning something interesting and being treated with respect.
- They are More than 3 times as likely to report having and excellent quality of life and six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs
- They feel an improvement in their confidence, direction, hope and kindness towards others.
I will end with one of my favorite Ted Talks by Shawn Achor that stresses how our society is focused on being “normal” when normal is just what we call average. If you want to be great, you must be an outlier. Disrupt the status quo.