“You can journey to the ends of the earth in search of success, but if you’re lucky, you will discover happiness in your own backyard. – Russell H. Conwell
How many times in your career have you heard that you should focus on your weaknesses, or that we all have weaknesses we must work to overcome? I don’t buy it. I think we should get into the habit of focusing on our strengths. By focusing on our weaknesses, we are reminding ourselves of the aspects of our life where we are least capable, rather than the most. By focusing on our strengths, we concentrate on reinforcing the capabilities we already have, which saves us the time and energy necessary to build new skills.
Each of us has a unique set of natural talents and learned skills, and sometimes we underestimate the power of these abilities. Too often, we look to others who seem to have more abilities or advantages than we do, without recognizing the significance of our own. I urge you to focus on your individual strengths. While you should not ignore your weaknesses, you should make them a smaller priority and focus most of your energy on your strengths.
Here’s what I suggest specifically:
Take the Time to Understand Your Strengths. Go through an assessment. Write them down. Be quite detailed. Prioritize them from beginning to end and understand exactly why you believe those are your strengths.
Focus on What You Can Do Now. How are your particular strengths or abilities unique in your industry or in the market sector you are focused on? How can you leverage them to create value?
Develop Your Strengths Further. Just having strengths and focusing on using them is not enough. Like building muscle, which needs to be worked each day, strengths need to be developed further. Improve your skills through education and use.
Remind Yourself Daily. Add them to your daily affirmation statement to remind yourself regularly. By focusing on your strengths over time, you will move to an area where you have greater capability, giving you more strength and success.
Ignore the Naysayers. Many people become obsessively concerned with correcting weaknesses (especially other people’s weaknesses), even if they are relatively minor. Respectfully ignore these people, particularly if you don’t feel they have your best interests in mind, or the credibility and merit to justify their approach. Stay focused on what you do best!
Eamonn has a B. Eng. (Electrical) from Lakehead University, MBA (Finance) from University of Toronto, and has completed Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on twitter @EamonnPercy.