Today I am all about this book: Now, Discover Your Strengths. It comes with a passcode that lets you take their online test that identifies your 5 key strength areas (make sure you buy a new copy as the passcode can only be used by one person, and while you’re at it get the new 2.0 version).
Now what is so cool about it? Is it just another aptitude test?
No. It’s not about what career you should have. It’s about who you really are. What your inherent strengths are.
The authors discuss how in our culture, from first grade, we are taught to focus on improving our strengths. When you get a good grade, you get a pat on the back, but when you get a bad grade, you’re supposed to study really hard in that subject. But why? Their point is that many things we’re not good at are not actually that crucial (or we can compensate for through choosing good teammates or other strategies). On the other hand, focusing on your strengths and developing them is the only way to achieve excellence. You will never, ever be excellent at the things that are your weaknesses. (They discovered this through research). So know them, compensate for them, but don’t invest all your energy into them because it’s just plain wasted. Instead, focus your time, energy, passion, etc on your strengths. And the great news is that your strengths are what come naturally and easiest to you, so focusing on them and improving them is easy. Especially compared to the beating your head against a wall trying to improve your weaknesses, trying really really hard and making only incremental improvements.
So my top 5 strength “themes” are:
- Ideation (coming up with new ideas)
- Activator (starting new things, getting things done)
- Strategic (figuring out the best route to the goal)
- Futuristic (thinking of what we could create in the future)
- Relator (getting to know a few people really well rather than being a social butterfly)
So, it’s not hard to guess why I’d end up as an entrepreneur. And starting a new business or project or website every week. =)
So, using this principle, it would be pointless for me to, say, try to learn how to do small talk better, or expand my social network by meeting 10 new people every week. Thinking of that idea, I feel tired. But it would be purposeful for me to learn how to move a small talk conversation gracefully into a more meaningful conversation. Now that is a lot more appealing and intriguing of a question.
Similarly, it would be pointless for me to learn how to develop the talents of employees and manage their progress (that’s the Developer strength). I don’t enjoy that at all. Instead, it makes much more sense to partner with someone who loves doing that, and I can focus instead on thinking up strategies for getting things done on all my great ideas for the future.
See how wonderful? Our natural abilities are what we soar at, what we truly enjoy, and what we can be great at and feel great doing. So the return on investment of understanding and honing your strengths is many times greater than trying to improve your weaknesses. And it’s so much more fun. It lets you unleash your full power in the areas you were born to be great at and love doing.
What a great strategy! Now I have an idea. If we could all just learn what our strengths are and encourage each other to follow them, our whole culture would be transformed as everyone understood their unique value and truly excelled at their inherent strengths. What a great future! Let’s get started! =)