When we are honest about our strengths, there is a freedom to be fully who we are and we don’t have to pretend to be something we are not.
I see people struggling, frustrated, not advancing in their lives while their real strengths are being underutilized.
I see bosses struggling, frustrated and constantly challenging those that they lead to get better at their responsibilities, yet the real underlying issue is that those they are leading are not operating in their strengths.
Simply put, too many times we are trying to put square pegs in round holes.
Why do we do this?
Why do so many live in frustration and underachievement?
There are a few reasons.
Sometimes it is because we need a paycheck.
I may not be operating in my strengths and I may be frustrated but I have to pay the bills.
I understand this, but this should not be a long term strategy. To spend your whole life doing something that you are not wired up to do with excellence just to pay the bills is sad, and it hurts you and the people around you.
Another reason is we don’t want to admit we are not operating in our strengths.
The Apostle Paul says in the 12th chapter of Romans, “Give an honest assessment of yourself.” This isn’t always easy to do but this is the start of real progress.
When you are honest about your strengths, there is a freedom to be fully who you are and you don’t have to pretend to be something you are not.
Another reason we may continue to operate in our weaknesses rather than our strengths is because the people around us will not address the issue.
They may continue to pound and pound and pound the square peg into the round hole.
The result of this is usually frustration on all sides.
There is one more reason we continue to operate in our weak areas and not our strengths is because we don’t know what our strengths are.
These are a few ways to find out.
One, ask yourself what things energize you? What things do you think about constantly? What things come easily to you? What things fire you up?
Donald O. Clifton, co-author of “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” writes “But if you find yourself thinking in the future, if you find yourself actually anticipating the activity-‘When can I do this again?’-it is a pretty good sign that you are enjoying it and that one of your talents is in play.”
From a very early age, I liked to talk. I liked the feeling of getting up in front of a lot of people and sharing my feelings. I love the feeling of being able to motivate people towards a greater cause.
I think about it a lot. I am energized by it. It’s a strength that I have leaned into and taken responsibility for.
I am blessed to have a life where I can use this strength often.
I have had jobs where I was making very good money, but was operating nowhere near my strengths. I was not a very productive employee and I was drained and miserable.
Two, ask your supervisor, co-workers and friends to give you an honest assessment at what they think your strengths are. Listen to them and don’t get defensive.
Three, read “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
This book has helped me immensely. It will show you what your top 5 strengths are and how to lean into them.
When you have done these three things, then do what the Apostle Paul told you to do and give an honest assessment of yourself.
Do your strengths line up with your job description and expectations?
Do your strengths line up with what you do most during the day?
Do your strengths line up with your future goals to change the world?
If yes, then embrace your strengths, lean into them, and manage your weaknesses.
As Marcus Buckingham writes, “Each person’s talents are enduring and unique and each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.”
If not, change your job. Change your activities. Change your life.
It’s not fair to you if you don’t.
It’s not fair to those around you if you don’t.
The world needs your strengths.
To invest in your strengths and to be honest about your weaknesses is a key sign you are moving from childhood to maturity.
Marcus Buckingham declares, “If nature didn’t whittle down your network to a smaller number of strongly forged connections, you would never become an adult. You would remain a permanent child, frozen in sensory overload.”