Playing to your strengths

Where are your hidden strengths?

As I read and discuss the topic of personal development and success I come across a recurring theme for those seeking success and fulfilment. Simplistically, it’s to identify your strengths and focus on those traits, while excluding actions that you don’t do well. Pass these tasks onto someone else so your focus is on the most productive and powerful aspects of your life.

Sounds logical: focus on what you’re good at and avoid what you’re not. But what happens when life doesn’t turn out as you planned? What then?

The idea is that when we identify and apply our personal strengths the results will lead to happiness and a greater possibility of success. This leads us to believe our strengths are equally applicable to every circumstance.

We know that circumstances often test us and our ability to adapt. If we maintain a ‘what I do well’ (strengths) strategy what happens if we fail? Do we then assume our identified strengths are not very good after all? Does this then reflect on us as an individual?

Perhaps a better strategy is to view our strengths more like growth opportunities that can be improved through effort. This allows for the satisfaction that comes from achieving personal growth and the ability to change our approach to suit the situation.

When things don’t work out as planned we feel the disappointment of failure far more when working in areas of ‘strength’ than when working on areas of development. The first leads to a sharp feeling of failure that reflects on us as a person (I’m a failure and I’m giving up) rather than the situation (It didn’t work out this time but I’m getting better with each attempt).

If we view our strengths as key areas for growth, then occasionally falling short will feel less like personal failure than if we’ve internalised these strengths as our basic personality traits.

If we only ever played to our strengths and succeeded, we would achieve the same results every time. Now, this might be great … consistent success … or it might be boring, because you wouldn’t be growing, you wouldn’t be challenged.

Whether in sport, the arts, business or life, the best performers are constantly looking for the edge, that additional level of performance that allows them to grow and do better. To beat their time, produce an even more beautiful work, to grow and feel the satisfaction of achievement.

It’s important to adopt a flexible approach to our strengths; no matter how naturally they come to us or how good we are, there’s still room for improvement.

Living with an attitude of ‘I must grow to succeed’ will bring far more satisfaction and a willingness to try new things than an ‘I must not fail’ mentality. After all, how much can we truly achieve in life if we’re not prepared to accept some level of failure as a key ingredient to personal growth and an interesting life?


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4 Responses to “Playing to your strengths”

  1. Paul Hassing Says:

    A strong performance, Big M. I particularly like your last paragraph. All power to you! Best regards, P. 🙂

  2. adamnrave Says:

    Great post … some original thinking in here. However, you’re topped by the squirrel photo, which is hilarious. Well done!

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