|Published by Kathy Paauw
Organizing & Productivity Consultant
Certified Business & Personal Coach
|Paauwer Tools is a Monthly Ezine
"Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer." --Peter Drucker
Your Wins & Clarify Your Focus for the Coming Year
As I reviewed this year, I celebrated the fact that I have become much clearer about my natural gifts and talents, which has enabled me to develop my strengths. This has made my eighth year in business the most satisfying, fulfilling and profitable year ever.
Many people never fully utilize their natural gifts because they don't find the proper way to express them in the world, or perhaps they don't even recognize the talents they have. Realized or not, we all have natural talents that we feel passionate about. These talents may feel so natural that you don't even realize how they make you unique and special. Your combined unique talents and capabilities create an experience for others that they will not be able to find anywhere else.
I had never thought of dyslexia as being a talent, until I read this book. The authors shared an example of how David Boies -- a celebrated trial attorney and one of the best litigators in the United States -- uses dyslexia to his advantage. He was recruited as counsel for the US Government's antitrust suit against Microsoft, in part because of his gift of dyslexia. Why? Because his dyslexia causes him to avoid using long and complicated words. He knows what these words mean, but doesn't use them in his arguments because he's afraid that he will mispronounce them. This need to rely on simple words makes his arguments easy to follow. He also comes across as a common-sense "man of the people," which naturally helps him win over a judge and jury. The authors of this book point out that "for David Boies, dyslexia is a talent because he has figured out a way to apply this recurring pattern productively, and by combining it with knowledge and skills, to turn it into a strength."
Authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths did extensive research which found that only 41% of Americans believe that the key to success is to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. In Japan and China, only 24% of those surveyed said they'd focus on strengths. The rest of the population believed that the key to success is found by focusing on weaknesses and trying to improve them.
The problem is that we tend to get what we focus on. If we focus on our weaknesses, what does that mean? Here were a couple of startling findings in the studies they conducted:
The authors point out that our balance is off. Our perspective is so skewed toward weakness and illness that we know very little about strength and health. They note that if these weaknesses interfere with our strengths, we need to develop strategies to manage around them. Although a focus on weakness may help us prevent failure, it won't help us to reach excellence. We reach excellence only by understanding and cultivating our strengths.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytic psychology, sums it up by saying that "Criticism has the power to do good when there is something that must be destroyed, dissolved, or redirected, but it is capable only of harm when there is something to be built."
Our dominant talents contain the promise of developing a strength. A strength is defined as a combination of talents, skills and knowledge that are consistently and productively applied to achieve a desired result. The authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths point out that "unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths. Instead, guided by our parents, our teachers, our managers and psychology's fascination with pathology, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths lie dormant and neglected."
Authors of this book have identified a total of 34 dominant talents. The StrengthsFinder profile (the access code to this online profile is found in their book) identifies your top 5 talents.
The authors define a weakness as "anything that gets in the way of excellent performance." They suggest five strategies to manage weaknesses as you strive to build your life around your strengths:
At the heart of Now, Discover Your Strengths, is the Internet-based StrengthFinder® Profile - the product of a 25-year, multi-million dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths. The program introduces 34 dominant "themes" with thousands of possible combinations, and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success.
Owners of the book (or audiocassette) receive a unique identification number that allows you access to the online profile. This Web-based interview analyzes your instinctive reactions and immediately presents you with your five most powerful themes (dominant talents). Once you know which themes you lead with, you can leverage them for powerful results with your own personal development, management success, and for the success of the organizations you work with. Note: the book or audiobook comes with a keycode to access the Strengths Finder Profile online. This keycode is only good for one profile, so if you purchase a used book or cassette, the code may have already been used by someone else.
I took the profile, and it confirmed that I am already relying most heavily on my signature themes.
The StrengthsFinder Profile is designed to help you pinpoint your signature themes, but should never be the only means by which you identify them. If you think you have a particular talent, the authors suggest that you monitor it over the next two months by jotting down some notes as you observe your own behavior and feelings as they relate to a particular talent.
The clearer you are about your own natural talents, the more you can streamline and strengthen your efforts. Clarifying your natural talents will help you stay focused on what skill sets and knowledge you need to develop.
Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful and feel most fulfilled when you craft your role to play to your most dominant talents.
Need help clarifying your priorities for the coming year or managing your time around those priorities? Let's chat!