By Tasha M. Troy
I have a friend with an undergraduate degree in music. I heard him once say that he was only a mediocre flutist but that he was able to outperform many of his classmates. The secret? He had to work hard just to keep up, but those with more natural talent chose to coast along. In the end, he graduated a better performer.
Experts in human potential say that you should develop your strengths, not your weaknesses. This seems counter intuitive to most; we think we should try to do better what we don’t do well. However, the truth is you will only really shine in areas of strength, but you will never reach your full potential until you invest the time and energy to grow in your areas of raw talent. Just like my friend’s classmates, if you choose not to grow in those areas, you will never truly excel or discover your purpose.
John Maxwell says that we “should get out of [our] comfort zone but stay in [our] strength zone,” but this assumes we know what our strengths are.
Discovering Our Strengths
I have just recently taken the Gallup StrengthsFinders assessment, and it seems a very useful tool, especially for those who may be less introspective or reflective of themselves.
If you aren’t familiar with StrengthsFinders, let me give just a brief overview.
- It measures your talents, not your strengths, but reveals where you have the potential to develop a strength.
- It identifies your 5 most prominent talents, “what’s right with people,” from a list of 34.
- This assessment actively discourages introspection! You are given only 20 seconds to answer each question.
Putting Strengths to Work
Because I am a highly reflective person, the results of my assessment weren’t tremendously surprising to me, but they have provided some interesting insights. What it has done is given me a framework to help me in ways perhaps not intended by the designers.
It is intended to provide teams with insights so that they can build around complimentary strengths, but at the moment I am a “solo-preneur” without a team. I have to fill every role, whether I am talented at it or not.
As an example, I know I need to get out and network in order to build my business. One of the talents is called “woo” – winning others over – which seems an essential talent for networkers. My father, who has never met a stranger, must have this talent, but I did not inherit it! It is truly the opposite of my natural inclination – an introvert who would much rather sit with a book than mingle with the crowds.
In order to become a more outgoing and proactive networker, I have dug into the descriptions of my talents for elements that could compel me to approach people. I have found one – the “developer” talent is “drawn toward people” for the purpose of helping them develop their talents.
I am now applying this talent insight to my networking approach; instead of looking at a room full of strangers, I choose to look at it as a room full of potential. Using this new approach, I have been experiencing more positive results.
Take It Deeper
Where are your greatest strengths? Which talents are you using, and which ones are you growing?
Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week. You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net
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