Focusing on Your Strengths

In Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton’s book “Now, Discover Your Strengths”, the value of identifying one’s strengths and honing those strengths is emphasized over and over.  This sounds like a really good concept and would probably get a room full of people shaking their heads thinking “…of course, why didn’t I think of that” or “isn’t that obvious”.

Taking a step back into the day to day routines we often find ourselves hearing of the areas we need to improve (our weaknesses).  We tend to become obsessed with our weaknesses and start devising devilish plans on how to overcome and squash them into the ground, never to be seen before.  Devising these plans and trying to execute on them can take an tremendous amount of time, energy and can often lead to discouraging results.  Sometimes being aware of your weaknesses and simply trying to keep them in check is the best course of action to take.

So now what to do?  If not obsessing and striving to squash our weaknesses, what is there to do with all that energy…build on your strengths.   The point of this post is not to re-publish Marcus and Donald’s book rather to point out an opportunity I recently had to experience someone actually focusing on their strengths.  As I mentioned in my first post, I have the wonderful opportunity of working with very passionate and dedicated people at AOL.  One of the awesome opportunities that has been made available to us from, none other than, my Boss – Mike Manos – is attending a monthly Leadership Academy.  In short this is a fantastic opportunity for various individuals to, voluntarily, come together to hear of Mike’s journey and to also hear of the leadership experiences of seasoned leadership veterans from around the world.

We had our first session this past Tuesday.  It’s actually the first of the  the second Leadership Academy class.  The pre-session homework was to read “Now, Discover Your Strengths” and take the StrengthsFinder Assessment.  class work for this session.  The session touched on many aspects of strengths, weaknesses, who we are, where we want to go, etc.  At the end of the session people were offering up their personal experiences.  One particular individual, sitting next to me, spoke of how she had been reading many of Marcus Buckingham’s books and watching his videos and  how she would get together to discuss with friends  – on their own time.

So here it is, all that back story for this simple, yet powerful encounter.  This person spoke of how she went through the process of identifying her strengths and dedicates time to revisit them on a regular basis to ensure she is still building on them.   She was also able to clearly state what her strengths were, how they were helping her in her career today and how they would help her achieve her goal.  She proceeded to talk of how happy she was that she was doing what she loved and loved what she was doing.  And I actually believed her.  Many times we hear people saying this, but you don’t necessarily get the feeling they are sincere.  Not in this case.  I was so impressed with the way she so confidently and proudly talked about herself, her strengths and goals, that I had to commend her after class.

Of course going through this process and living it day to day is not easy.  However, I was able to see from this person’s example…it is totally worth the effort if you want to make sure you are doing what you love and that you’re able to set real goals that you will be happy with and able to reach.  So go on, get out there and discover your strengths, build on them and get to loving what you do.