Optimize and Improve Your Strengths

Many of us have spent some time in a corporate environment during our careers. For companies, and almost any organization, we’ve lived through the experience of the mostly dreaded performance review. During my career, I’ve received and given many performance reviews. I was trained to focus on improving certain aspects of my performance and, in almost all cases, these improvement areas were ones where something wasn’t quite measuring up. In other words, I needed to improve my weaknesses. Very seldom did these conversations focus on improving my strengths.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more aware of the folly of improving the areas where I am weak and taking for granted my strengths. After all, how much time did Babe Ruth spend practicing his bunting skills? Awareness of our strengths provides an opening for us to look for opportunities to leverage them. I know that when I’m working on something that leverages my strengths or talents, the work flows easily and it’s a lot more fun.

One of the challenges for many of us is determining what are our strengths are. Fortunately, there are tools available to help us identify our strengths or talents. Among the best of these is the StrengthsFinder developed by Donald O. Clifton. This on-line assessment yields a report which provides your five dominant themes of talent. In a companion book entitled “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, these themes are reviewed in detail and much more insight is provided in how to build these talents into strengths that yield a life you’ve always wanted.

In our practice, we also use a personal assessment tool called the Attribute Index to make better decisions, maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses.

In closing, two passages from Clifton’s book stand out for me. “The real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths, it’s that we fail to use the ones we have.” And “Identify your most powerful talents, hone them with skills and knowledge, and you will be well on your way to living the strong life.”