“People have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies” (StrengthsFinder 2.0).
“What’s right with people?” – this the question Gallup scientists set out to answer back in 1998.
Here’s what they discovered in the process:
Take a moment for honest reflection and ask yourself:
How much energy have I invested trying to close the gaps on my weaknesses? Trying to build up my strengths?
My answer favors the gaps.
Sadly, it’s not just me. Most self-help books and learning programs are geared to do exactly this.
- Mismatch 1: Most people spend more time and energy on their weaknesses than their strengths.
- Mismatch 2: The aim of most learning and development programs is to help you become what you’re not.
Think about this for a second – the majority of people spend more time, energy and money trying to attain things they don’t have instead of developing things they already do have!
Here’s something the self-help industry probably doesn’t want you to know:
By focusing on what makes you stand out instead of what you lack, you can transform your natural talents into unique strengths (USP’s) – in today’s competitive market you can NEVER have enough of those.
If and when the time comes, your USP’s will also give you a BIG leg up toward making your resume stand out.
BE LIKE MIKE
Oprah, Tony Robbins and their ilk would like you to believe that you can be anything if you just try hard enough.
Mmmm, sorry but not even Michael Jordan was good enough for Major League Baseball. He was, however, extraordinary on a basketball court (any kid who picked up a basketball in the 90’s wanted to “be like Mike”).
The truth is that no matter how hard most of us practice we will never play at the highest level of any sport.
For a funny and empowering look at this hard-to-swallow fact, check out Mark Manson’s take on why “Being Special Isn’t So Special”.
Years before StrengthsFinder popularized the idea that “you can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of what you already are”, Albert Beisser M.D. recognized that “change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not” (Paradoxical Theory of Change 1970).
In addition to talent, successful transformation requires knowledge, skills and regular practice. However, talent is key base metal needed for the precious one.
After all, most skills and knowledge can be acquired whereas talent is extraordinary and unique. I might be able to fix the kitchen sink after hours of YouTube tutorials but my time and energy would be better spent on hiring someone for the job (no matter how hard I practice I’ll never be a crack at home repairs).
Courtesy of StrengthsFinder 2.0, here’s how it works:
Talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving)
Investment (time spent practicing developing your skills, and building your knowledge base)
Strength (the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance)
I’d offer you a step-by-step playbook but I believe that for it to be successful, it needs to come from you – you are one of a kind and your solution needs to fit you.
What I do strongly recommend is the following:
- Learn more about Beisser’s Paradox (free).
- Take the StrengthsFinder online questionnaire (great value at $20).
Start with your natural talents and add skills and knowledge as you go. And don’t forget the practice part (if public speaking is a talent, it won’t develop into a strength if you spend all your time at your desk).
Here are 3 Powerful Questions to trigger your creative thinking:
- What makes me stand out?
- What skills or abilities come easy, and do I enjoy doing?
- What can I do well that others can’t?
With honest reflection and a little more digging, transforming your talents into strengths will require practice, hard work and a touch of alchemy – “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination” (Google, 2016).
What’s your experience moving from talent to strength? What idea can you add to mine?