Stop Living in Every Area of Your Strengths
Live in your strengths is a recipe for success. While I agree with the wisdom, I would like to offer a clarification. For maximum effectiveness, we must not live is every area of our strengths.
The Live In Your Strengths Principle
The live in your strengths idea inspires one to discover their personal strengths then slowly steer their focus to working or operating in those strengths. Meanwhile, as one focuses on their strengths, they should simultaneously bring people into their circle who complement their areas of weakness.
For the last 10 years, I have gradually adapted myself and my team to this strategy. I maintain a long list of strengths (and weaknesses) for myself. But I can summarize my strengths into two categories: leading and thinking. I love to lead. And I love to think. I am strong in these two areas because of natural gifts, but also because I make a concerted effort to develop in these areas.
A Problem with The Original Principle
While I have always pressed into these two strengths in my leadership at TotalCare, the company I oversee, I have recently noticed something interesting. There are a handful of leaders around me who have become highly capable leaders in their own right. So while leading is naturally an area in which I excel, and one I enjoy, I have begun letting other leaders do the leading. By doing so, in some ways, I am going against the maxim to live in your strengths.
As I have experimented with the concept, my new maxim has become: Live in the strengths that your organization needs most. What this means for me in my current organization is that I need to step back from my primary role in leading and spend more of my time in the area of thinking and forming strategies.
The Success Formula
- What are your strengths?
- First, create a computer file you can revisit often that contains your personal research in discovering the areas in which you excel. What are your strengths? Over time, I have found that I come back to my list frequently to refine, add, change, or even remove my perceived strengths.
- Determine your strengths.
- Use tools to help you find them. The one I most often recommend if you have not used it before is Strengths Finders which reveals your top five strengths with descriptions.
- Next, brainstorm. Identify your previous successes. Also, think about which areas you often receive compliments and accolades. Add those.
- Survey the people around you to see which strengths they observe in you.
- Group your strengths in 3-5 categories. For example, my “thinking” strengths include all of these listed below, which I have compiled over the years. All of these strengths I group under one strength—thinking.
- I untangle complex situations.
- I like to kick around ideas alone or with others whom I have a connection with.
- I can see solutions to apparent messes, impossible situations, and confusing issues.
- I love to solve difficult problems.
- I love to learn.
- I like breaking complex processes or concepts into simple, understandable, and memorizable steps.
- Of your strengths, in which one do your people excel as well? If your people are at least 75% as good as you in one of your areas of strength, I would consider letting them do it. Find the strength that your people are less than 75% capable in doing either because of inability or lack of time. Spend your time working in those areas.
- Resist the urge to operate in an area of strength in which you decided to leave to others. For example, I find it quite challenging to allow others to lead while I am removed from the scene. Here’s why:
- Leading has become a habit. Others in my circle are used to me leading them, as well as teaching them about leadership. While I still plan to live a life of growth as a leader, and I will still lead in some capacity, there are so many quality leaders on my team who can step into those roles. They can lead and train leaders, so I need to pull back on my leadership to allow them to flourish and operate in their talent.
- When I lead, I feel fulfilled. After all, leadership is my gifting and area of greatest study. Giving that up, even on a small scale, will eliminate a source of confidence and joy.
When we focus our life on our unique strengths, we give the biggest contribution to the world. To get there, we must go on a road to find answers to our questions. I wish you a successful journey of discovery.