“…to avoid your strengths and to focus on your weaknesses isn’t a sign of diligent humility. It is almost irresponsible. “– Donald O. Clifton.
From the very first day that we begin our formal education and schooling, homilies such as “practice makes perfect,” are used to impress upon each of us our innate abilities and preferences, we should constantly be seeking out our weaknesses and looking for ways to improve every aspect and detail of our lives. Seeking to be diligent, and hardworking, does have its merits. However, since we are finite creatures with limited amounts of time and resources doesn’t it make more sense to focus on those things that we are good at, our natural talents, and play to our strengths, rather than obsessing so much over our weaknesses?
Our world is filled with examples of why it pays to work on our strengths and hone our natural skills and talents. When you take a close look at the lives of those who are considered to be true innovative leaders in science, sports, entertainment and business, you quickly realize that these gifted individuals all share on thing in common: they played to their strengths and then either delegated, or simply disregarded, their weaknesses.
Focus on Your Strengths to Become the Best in Your Field
Albert Einstein is famous for his theory of relativity which shook up academia and redefined how we look at matter. In addition to his work in mathematics and physics, he also enjoyed playing the violin, and was known as an excellent player. While Einstein was certainly talented at playing the violin, at some point he realized he did not have the time necessary to devote to it to achieve the level necessary to become a concert violinist and continue his work in physics and mathematics.
While Einstein remained passionate about the violin, it became a talent that he minimally practiced as he grew older, and shared with only with a select group of friends and relatives. It’s difficult to imagine this same man having the time and energy to discover unique insights into physics, and indulge his love of the violin, if he had also spent a considerable amount of his days worried about the proper styling of his hair, or cleaning and organizing his home – two tasks that he either disregarded or delegated. Just like any other “genius,” Einstein knew he only had a limited amount of time and resources, so he played to his strengths.
Of course, regardless of our career path and talents, there will always be skills that we will need to practice and achieve some competence in so that we can be successful. However, if we want to rise from being marginally functional and become exceptional, become the best in our field, we must first learn to identify our strengths and spend the time and energy necessary to hone them until they are razor sharp.
Do You Want to Be a Genius? Then Narrow Your Focus
No one can be “all things to all people at all times.” It’s okay to admit our weaknesses and limitations to ourselves and others. It’s also okay to delegate tasks for which we have limited ability to others more talented in that area. Learning how to accept our limitations and embrace our strengths helps us stop dividing our focus so that we can zero in on those things we naturally excel at. In this way we can raise our competence level and become an expert in our specific area.
Learning to Identify and Trust Strength in Others
The ability to become an exceptional leader doesn’t stop at learning to play to your own strengths. To continue to progress you must learn to trust yourself and have confidence in your ability to assemble teams and assign tasks to its members based on their own strengths and natural innate abilities. If you have an associate that isn’t performing up to par, the trouble may not be that they have a weakness that needs improvement, but rather you may have paired them with a task that doesn’t fit their strengths and talents. Learning to trust your instincts and shake things up by reassigning tasks and members based on these strengths will help you to encourage excellence in both yourself and all of your associates.
If you’d like to find out more about why focusing on your strengths is a good leadership choice, take a look at my video. http://youtu.be/_zxflmklT5M
If you are having difficulty identifying your individual strengths and the talents of the individual members of your team, why not contact us today and ask how Strength Based Leadership can help you and your team to progress from mere competency to true excellence.
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Reach out to me today as I would LOVE to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
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