While we all like working in areas that are our strengths, we also know it isn’t possible all of the time. I do like the thought of building on our strengths. To me it seems like we should work on improving weaknesses rather than growing strengths. But from experience I would have to say that people are more likely to invest time in growing stronger in an already strong area than in lessening a weakness.
“Play to your strengths.” How many times have you heard that one? How many times have you heard it, and within one day had to do something you knew was not a strength of yours, because you felt you had no choice?
Sometimes that happens. We don’t really have the option of only working in areas where we’re strong. Especially when we run our own businesses, sometimes we have to do the things that are not really our strongest areas. There’s no one else around, so the job falls to us.
But I think that a lot of the time we don’t really put enough effort into focusing on our strengths. I know I’m guilty of this. Rather than spending time thinking about how I can use my strengths to accomplish something, or even spending a significant time to make using my strengths part of my routine, I just go with the way things already are – with what I think I already know.
There is a good deal of research indicating that if you are strong in an area, you can improve that skill exponentially with much less work than it would take to improve a weakness only marginally. I have certainly seen examples of people building on their strengths simply by working very hard in those areas. Practice really does make perfect, at least when you’re already very good at something.
I like this idea of building on our strengths primarily because my job is to help people balance their lives and live more completely. I guess it seems like I ought to think we should work on improving weaknesses rather than growing strengths, but my experience has been that growing strengths works better, and that people are more likely to invest the time in growing stronger in an already strong area, than in lessening a weakness.
One reason is that growing our strengths is a lot easier. Another reason is that it’s a lot more fun. If talking on the phone to customers makes you feel weak and tired, why would you want to spend time working on that skill? You might get a little better, but you’d still feel weak and tired afterward. On the other hand, if you feel energized after a client call, you can build on that strength and become even better at making and taking those calls, and you’ll not only see results, but you’ll feel better while you’re doing the work.
I think one of the reasons I like this idea of working in your strong areas and making them super-strengths is because it’s counterintuitive. Logic tells us we need to be well-rounded. We don’t want to think of ourselves as bulking up one muscle while neglecting the others.
But our lives are not like our bodies. We really become stronger overall by “bulking up” those strengths.