Play to Your Strengths, Not Against ThemDec 07, 2020
Understanding your strengths is important to make consistent forward progress on your goals. Have you ever sat down and made a list of the things you’re really good at, or what processes help you succeed? You may find once you start making that list you are in fact working outside of your areas of excellence and against your strengths.
Strengths are not just something you can do, but something you are really good at. Something you have the advantage in over other people. It can be something you naturally are good at or it can be something you’ve learned and invested a lot of time in to become an expert.
So what are your strengths? Are you good at learned skills like graphic design or creative marketing? Are you good at math and numbers, data analysis? Maybe you are a master organizer and good at creating systems. Or, you may be a big picture person, good at strategic planning.
No matter what your strengths are, it’s important to play to them. Incorporate what you’re good at into your day to day routine and plan to bring your best self and set of skills to the table. How can you do this?
Understand and address your weaknesses.
When you understand what you’re good at, as well as where you need to improve, you can then prioritize accordingly and set yourself up for success. Forcing yourself to fight against your strengths is not always the best strategy.
For instance, if you know you work better in groups, find time with a classmate or co-worker to talk through or brainstorm next steps on a project. If you are more of an independent worker, let your team know what you’d like to knock out and send them your work for feedback.
This strategy applies everywhere. Do you have trouble waking up in the morning? Prioritize getting stuff done the night before. You may not be able to force yourself to be a morning person, but you can prepare yourself the night before to roll out of bed ready to rock. We all need to understand ourselves to truly maximize our efforts and effectiveness.
You can’t do it all. Prioritize.
Many times we believe in today’s world that we have to be good at everything. You can’t do it all - it’s that simple. By trying to do everything, you are weakening the quality of your work. Focus on the one thing you want to be great at and work towards it. When we stop trying to be great at everything and instead focus on what really matters to us, that’s when we are most successful.
This means you MUST ask for help. If you can’t do it all, you need others who can supplement your weaknesses. Not a numbers person? Align yourself with someone who is. Big picture person? Find someone who can confidently execute the day to day. The best teams are built when everyone is working in their respective strengths.
Focus on mastering your strengths.
Spend the majority of your time working on what you’re good at and striving to get even better. Time matters, and spending time struggling on things that others are better suited to support you with is not a good use of your extra hours. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should. Narrow your efforts towards your area of excellence, spend the majority of your time in that area, and the results will speak for themselves.
Being good at a lot of things isn’t as important as being the BEST at one thing. Think back to your athletic career. You probably enjoyed playing multiple sports growing up and loved the change of pace and the things you learned from each one. But as you started to get older, it became time to focus on your strengths - which sport were you the best at, which sport did you want to invest the most time in?
No matter what you are tackling outside of sports, the same principle applies. Focus on your strengths and being the best you can be in your area of excellence. Success will follow.