Friday, March 18, 2016

Two Big Problems With Your "Strengths"

There is a lot said and written about "working in your strengths". So, take a minute and think of a few of your greatest strengths.  Do you have a few in mind? Now answer a much better question.  How do you know those are your strengths?

I bet you thought about some things you’re good at.  Maybe you thought about aspects of your job or hobbies that people tend to praise you for.

Well, that's not unusual.  But, there are two problems with this line of thinking:
  1. The bias factor.  You’re not objective.  And most of the people praising you are not objective either.  Your boss praises what he wants you to do more of.  He’s biased.  Your mother praises everything you do just because she loves you.  She’s biased.  You praise yourself based on your intentions, not reality.  You’re biased.
  2. The energy factor.  Even if you do manage to identify some tasks you truly excel at, those are not necessarily strengths of yours.  The question you have to key in on is,“What activities leave me feeling energized?”  When you identify those, you’ve begun the path to identifying your true strengths.
A quick example.  For about two years, I preached and taught at my church almost every weekend.  I got very good feedback.  People complimented me on my messages.  I felt reasonably pleased with what I had delivered when I watched it back via video.  I even have a good friend who swears my preaching changed his life!  You would have thought preaching was a strength of mine.  One problem.  I hated it.  Because both the preparation and delivery sucked every ounce of energy out of me.  Identifying this was a contributing factor to my decision to resign as the pastor of that church.

So, how did I identify that poignant truth in my life?  How could you do the same? I found someone and you can find someone (a coach, consultant or mentor) or something (strengths finder test, etc) who is totally unbiased to help you discover the activities in your life that bring you energy.  Do more of those.  In turn, you will also discover activities that deplete your energy.  Do fewer of those.  Above all, find someone or something to help you identify your strengths and begin living in that zone. 

What tools have you used to help you identify your true strengths or weaknesses?  Would you mind sharing those in the comments?

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