Strengths and weaknesses. We all have them. What one person might define as strengths, another person would call weaknesses.
When you think of strengths, you may think of confidence, trustworthiness, assertiveness, and good listening skills. Weaknesses might be rudeness, selfishness, and a complaining or negative attitude.
Our strengths and weaknesses are as unique as we are.
On some days, your weaknesses will show a little more. Everyone has a bad day where, by automatic default, they will play more to their weaknesses. It could be a rough day at work, or a morning when your kids are misbehaving, for example.
But the key to being successful in any endeavor is playing to your strengths as often as possible—even on these hard days.
There are several ways to ensure you are focusing on your strong suits.
How to Play to Your Strengths
1. Identify your personal strengths
Most of us know where our true strengths and weaknesses lie. But sometimes we cloud our judgment because most people have a hard time being critical of themselves.
Get an objective answer by asking five of your closest friends to list your strengths and weaknesses. Most likely, there will be some commonalities. There are also a number of strength assessments available online.
2. Don’t fight your strengths
Sometimes, people don’t like their strengths, and they try to fight them. A perfect example of this that I’ve run into many times while coaching clients is the introvert. Introverts, by nature, enjoy being alone. A lot of people view this as a negative characteristic, but that’s not so. For example, introverts typically better listeners and observers; plus, some studies have connected introverts as gifted and being able to think about solving problems better than their extroverted peers.
Stop fighting your strengths and make them work for you.
3. Work on your weaknesses
Practice makes perfect. If you want to get better at something, you have to work at it; the same goes for weaknesses. The best way to get really good at something: fail time and again until you get it right. When Donald Trump was $9 billion in debt in the early 1990s, did you really believe he was washed up for good? Of course not. Trump has many failures to his name, but that’s how he developed his strengths.
Sometimes we’re born with a natural ability, and other times we must work hard to get good at something. If you want it bad enough, and it’s not one of your strong suits, keep practicing and perfecting your skill, because it is possible to turn a weakness into a strength.
However, one very important point: there are some weaknesses that will never become real strengths. It’s possible to improve on a weaker characteristic, but if you never master a skill, that’s okay, too. In those cases, set a goal to make the best improvement you can.
4. Create key partnerships based on your strengths and weaknesses
Grand achievements demand more than any one person can deliver. That’s the beauty of partnerships or working together. Each person on the team concentrates on his or her strong suits to accomplish a common goal.
Think of the family physician. He is able to the exam you and get a sense of your general state of health and treat common illnesses, but his strength doesn’t like removing skin cancer or performing heart surgery. He focuses on what he does best and refers his patients to physicians whose strengths lie in those specialties.
5. Do what you love
There’s a reason the old “do what you love” advice works so well. When you do what you love, you’re playing to your strengths. Most people are generally good at what they love to do, or they wouldn’t be doing it. Plus, most extremely successful people are doing what they love to do because their talent in that area surpasses most others.
Related: 5 Tips for Getting Your Dream Job
Even if you’re not great at that thing you love to do, you’re more than likely going to get very good at it because you will devote every free minute to getting better.
As the late Layne Staley from the rock band, Alice in Chains said, “My bad habits aren’t my title. My strengths and my talent are my titles.” In everything you do in life, whether it’s on a personal or professional level, approach each situation with your strengths in mind.
Steve Siebold is the author of the international bestselling book 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class. He is a mental toughness consultant to Fortune 500 Corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Toyota.
Photo by bryanstupar