In my latest quarterly meetings I’m sharing the concepts from a phenomenal book. “Now Discover Your Strengths,” by Marcus Buckingham. It changes how people look at their own growth and development. The book works from a couple of essential rules.
First, we tend to be obsessed with our weaknesses and try to improve on them. The reality is that in any area where we’re truly weak, we can climb from pathetic up to really bad. So if you’re not good at math, you’ll never be good at it, no matter how hard you try.
Second, there’s a big difference between a skill and a strength. Many people spend time using skills, but not achieving peak performance. Buckingham’s definition of a strength is something you’re pulled toward and want to do. When you’re doing it, you’re highly engaged. You’re curious about how you can do it better. When you’re finished, you feel energized and want to do it again. If you look at your workday through that filter, you’d probably put your focus in different areas.
For example, I’m a person who’s good with numbers and finance, statistics and so forth. Although this is a skill of mine, if I spent all my time crunching numbers for a company, it would drain me. However, if you give me a chance to work with a challenging CEO or leadership team of a company, I’ll be there in a second. And even though I’ve worked hard, when I’m done I’m energized and want to do more. That’s a strength.
In an ideal situation, you should spend 80 percent of your time playing to your strengths, and spend 20 percent polishing your skills so they’re reasonable. This can create a new environment for growth. According to Buckingham, less than 20 percent of us get to play to our strengths.
Coach Kevin’s Challenge
Are there areas that your company can focus its training to develop employee strengths? Where can you leverage the desire to improve strengths, so you come away with a net energy gain?