So often we feel the only way to improve in life is to focus all our attention on our areas of weakness, but what if we focussed on our strengths instead?
You know there are only 24 hours in any given day. You get to choose how you spend them. Of course, there are certain activities that you must fit into those 24 hours, sleep being one of them. But, in your waking hours, you get to choose how those hours will be spent. So, why not spend them focussing on your strengths?
It’s all too easy to get sucked into focussing on those areas where we feel limited, but for each hour you spend beating yourself up for something you perceive as a weakness. It’s one less hour you get to enjoy feeling good about an area of strength. It’s a concept known as opportunity costs. By making one choice, you forgo an opportunity. Therefore, it makes sense to spend the most amount of time available on your strengths.
Sometimes, it does make sense to spend time looking at your weaknesses, especially if you are looking to make them strengths. This is considered improving yourself and should be looked upon in a positive light.
But, too often, people get hung up on their weaknesses to the point where they obsess. This is not healthy and it can have a negative impact on your self-confidence. We all have weaknesses. Acknowledge those weaknesses, improve on them where you can, but move onto your strengths.
One of the main things to consider when you are deciding whether to spend time on an area of perceived weakness is how much you enjoy the thing you are working on. If it’s something you don’t enjoy and you aren’t good at then it may be that it’s not the thing to focus on. On the other hand, if it’s something that you love but you aren’t very good at then maybe it’s worth investing time in.
An example of this in my own life is cake decorating when I started out I was shockingly bad, essentially creating sticky sparkly blobs. Nevertheless, it made me so happy and I enjoy doing with my mum, so I decided it was worth investing my time and money in and as a result, I have become significantly better and it has now become one of my strengths.
That said even within this hobby I have strengths and weaknesses, making sugar flowers – not my thing (luckily my mum is awesome at them), painting and piping – much more my thing and not my mum’s. By each of us playing to our strengths we can create some pretty fab cakes.
By the same thinking that you can improve upon your weaknesses, you improve even further upon your strengths. This is not always possible, especially when you are already as good as you can get with something. But, for many strengths you possess, you have the potential to get even stronger with them. Everyone believed Billy Joel was an amazing piano player and then he took time off to get even better. Now, he is insanely good. He decided to do this after he worked with Ray Charles and felt he was inadequate in comparison to Ray.
Another way to focus on your strengths is to hook up with people who are better than you at those strengths. While these people may seem intimidating at first, you will naturally pick up aspects of those strengths just by being with them and trying to emulate what they are doing. Again, think about the Billy Joel/Ray Charles story described earlier.
Sometimes, you can bring old strengths back into the mix. Perhaps you changed careers earlier in life but you come across a situation where your old strengths can serve you. Don’t be afraid to reintroduce those strengths into the new career. You never know just how helpful those skills can be in your current situation. It can also give you a new perspective by using past experiences.