All of us develop and regularly exhibit a portfolio of strengths and weaknesses. What’s more, most of us seek to improve on them as much as we can. But we don’t all do this the same way.
One common approach is to focus primarily on your weaknesses and strive to lessen their impact on your work and your life. That’s certainly something you should do, at least some of the time.
But it may be even more useful to focus primarily on your strengths, and how you can make better use of them to increase your level of productivity and success.
To benefit from this more positive approach to improvement:
Identify Your Strengths
Much has been said about personal strengths, and how to recognize them. One of the most basic steps along this path, of course, is to define what we mean by “personal strength.”
One of the first definitions that often comes to mind is “a skill or ability at which you are proficient.” This makes a certain amount of sense, because the ability to play tennis well, lead a meeting fruitfully, or do something else very well can obviously be valuable and important.
A different angle on the concept of personal strength, however, is “a skill or ability that energizes and fulfills you.” This also makes sense, because those attributes are easier to sustain from year to year and will usually lead you to build a highly rewarding life.
Whatever definition you prefer, it’s important to consciously identify at least some of your personal strengths. Although I won’t go into them here, there are many good ways to do this.
What follows is far from a complete list of personal strengths, but I’ve chosen some common examples that may include one or more of yours:
Leadership: The willingness and ability to take charge of situations and interactions.
Competence: The ability to solve problems, complete tasks, understand choices and their implications, or otherwise produce desirable outcomes.
Social Skills: The knack for easily and successfully navigating interactions with other people, often resulting in friendships or other positive relationships.
Calmness: Feeling comfortable and relaxed in a wide variety of situations, including those that can unnerve or agitate other people.
Playfulness: A tendency to act and react in various situations without over-thinking or worrying too much, and to get some enjoyment from the moment.
Persistence: The commitment to complete what you start and the willingness to pursue long-term efforts toward at least some of your tasks, projects, and goals.
Utilize Your Strengths for Productivity and Success
Whatever your strengths may be, it‘s helpful to identify them and to follow perhaps the most commonly-offered advice: make use of them more often.
But it can be even more helpful to find and pursue the best ways to utilize your strengths with a view toward increasing your productivity and success.
Leadership: If people seem willing to follow along with your ideas and choices, you can concentrate on leading them toward spending more time on the key activities that will produce better, more meaningful results where it counts the most.
Competence: You can spend more time and energy working toward desirable outcomes in the highest-value areas of your work and your life.
Social Skills: You can try developing positive relationships with people and organizations that can share resources, access, skills and/or abilities you currently find in short supply.
Calmness, Playfulness: People often value those who can attain and spread these positive feelings. Those abilities can gain you access to people, places, and things rarely offered to others.
Persistence: Your ability to work toward long-term tasks and projects that most people won’t attempt greatly expands the range and size of goals you can set with a reasonable expectation of success.
Simply understanding and using your strengths will help you build a strong sense of who you are, and also set the stage for personal development, appropriate self-confidence, and greater effectiveness.
But when you take the additional step of consciously applying your strengths in ways that will lead toward additional productivity and success, you greatly increase their leverage for enhancing both your work and your life.
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