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Leadership Thought #376 – Play To Your Strengths


When I used to work for Gallup many years ago they had a great saying, “you can’t put in what God left out.”  Many of us spend far too much effort trying to be what we are not instead of focusing on what makes us truly special.  We all have natural weaknesses and strengths.  Some people are great at details while others seem to effortlessly grasp the big picture.  Some people are great thinking on their feet where others thrive using a more methodical approach.  There are a few of us with the physical ability to be a professional athlete while others are better at reporting and analyzing the events taking place on the field.  The list goes on and on.  Of course all of this happens on a continuum, but I believe each and every one of us has gifts and talents that separate us from the pack (if only we are paying attention).

When we are doing what comes naturally and plays to our strengths, life tends to go a bit smoother.  There is less stress and angst over outcomes.  Instead of struggling with what’s required, we feel self-confident on our ability to get the job done.   Unfortunately most of our education and work experience is about others identifying where we are falling short and pushing us to improve in areas where we could be mediocre at best.  I’ve always believed to be exceptional at something you must not only enjoy it and have a passion for it, but also feel like you have the potential to be great in the first place.

Of course, there is certain general knowledge we all need to have.  In addition, when you work for someone else it is rare you only ever get to do what you are good at.  However, smart teachers and bosses understand that if they identify and play to someone’s strengths they will get better results.  We also need to take personal responsibility for our own levels of self-awareness and be honest with our self and others about where we thrive and where we struggle.  If you only ever do your job to get a paycheck, you will inevitably lose interest, get frustrated and achieve less than stellar results.  If you show up to work every day with a purpose and feel you are well suited to what you are doing and making a positive difference you will be amazed by what’s possible.  Life shouldn’t be lived passively.  It is much easier to focus on what was put in rather than what was left out.

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One Response

  1. Very well put!

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