For decades, society has been bombarded by messages of being not good enough. Take a trip to any bookstore or library and you’ll find a substantial self-help section. People believe that improving their weaknesses is the only road to success.
That’s just not true.
You can invest time and effort to improve your skills in an area of so-so performance, and your improvement will be measurable, but it won’t be exponential. If you’re looking to be a superstar, concentrate on the areas where you have natural talent and already shine.
Yes, this is counterintuitive to all the feedback we’ve received. Our parents, teachers, managers and supervisors go to great lengths to tell us what is wrong with us and where we fail.
People believe that improving their weaknesses is the only road to success. That’s just not true.
When was the last time you got a report card or performance review that focused on all the things you’re good at? Think about that for a minute. For many, the closest thing we have is an elementary school report card. That piece of paper handed to us from our school authority figures was supposed to record our level of comprehension and effort in a prescribed curriculum. There was a range of marks, and typically the highest ones happened in subjects we found easy or fun. But those lowest marks got the most attention – there was always an emphasis where we needed to improve. Those lowest marks appeared to be an arrow pointing directly towards subjects where we should focus our efforts.
Instead, what would have happened if we received encouragement to concentrate on the few subjects where our marks were the highest? What if our managers and supervisors paved the path for us to invest in the important things we already do well? There’s potential to go from being great to being extraordinary! By investing in improving that talent and turning it into a strength, there is significantly more return on your investment.
People focused on using their strengths are 3 times more likely to have an excellent quality of life, and 6 times more likely to be engaged in their job.
But don’t just take my word for it. The entire concept of Positive Psychology is based on focusing on success.
Instead of studying what’s wrong with people, like the many psychologists before him, Dr. Donald Clifton wanted to know what made a person successful. Dr. Clifton is considered the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology and the Grandfather of Positive Psychology, and credited with the idea of concentrating on what is right with people, rather than what is wrong with them. He spent years researching success and the traits that made people successful. He identified talent themes and developed an assessment to identify which of those themes are highest in an individual.
People focused on using their strengths are 3 times more likely to have an excellent quality of life, and 6 times more likely to be engaged in their job. People are happier and more successful. Focusing on strengths can improve positivity, productivity, innovation, profitability and engagement.
And who doesn’t want that?
Pam Danyluk is a Certified Strengths Coach and a Sage with LevellingUp. To learn more about using your strengths through Pam’s Accelerator Groups, see her page on LevellingUp.ca.
- American Psychological Association Presidential Commendation, 2002