Why Your Strength ISN’T the Thing Do Best

Pop Quiz: What are your strengths?

Body Obsession

Got an answer in your head? Now, imagine yourself doing that thing. How does it feel? Do you enjoy it? Does it energize you and make you feel like you can conquer the world (or at least the task at hand)? If the answer to these questions is “No”, then you have failed the Pop Quiz. Miserably. 

Many people define their “strength” as the thing that they do better than anyone else. Here’s where you run into problems with that: In my house, I may be the best person at washing dishes. I do it quickly, clean them thoroughly and ensure a no spot shine, every time. But, I HATE washing dishes. That is not my strength. Sound silly? Okay, let’s say you think your strength is accounting. You’ve got the degree and the job to go with it. You’ve been promoted twice, you’re happy with your salary, your boss is happy with you. You have a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to Accounts Receivable. You are a Corporate ROCKSTAR!! But, you go home every night exhausted. You’d rather be drawing pictures than reading spreadsheets. You spend your weekends trying to forget your day job. Guess what?? Accounting is not your strength, it’s your anchor. It pays the bills and makes you feel safe, but it drags you down.

In, Now, Discover Your Strengths, Donald Clifton drops this gem on us:

” The ability is a strength only if you can fathom yourself doing it repeatedly, happily, and successfully”

That’s it. Otherwise, it’s just something you do well, but dislike.

Your true strength may be something that you actually never do. Maybe you were into art as a kid but told yourself, you’re an adult now and had to put away those toys to focus on making money.  Or I’ve seen this one so many times: You’ve been dancing since you were four years old, not because your parents made you, but because you love it. It frees you. Then, the moment you went to college, you dropped your passion for dance and studied Engineering. That’s not just the plot from Step Up 3, art imitates life. You, my dear, are Moose, and even a simple walk down the street will turn into a well choreographed dance number, if you just let it.  (No clue? Watch this.)

The point made in Discover Your Strengths book is that you can be good at many things, but you can only be absolutely amazing at the thing that is your true strength. If you feel like you’re sliding through life at a mediocre pace, you might just be in the wrong lane. Take a look at where you spend most of your time and how you feel when that time is passing. Do you feel that it’s time well spent or would you rather be fishing? Have you convinced yourself that you can do this job for a few more years to bank some cash, then split? Or worse, are you convinced that this is the only thing that you’re good at. Both are very costly stories to tell. Ultimately, you’ll begin to feel trapped, stuck, inauthentic and just plain BLAH about life.

One more nugget from Mr. Clifton:

“If your senses are numbed with delusion and denial, you will stop looking for these true strengths and wind up living a second-rate version of someone’s life rather than a worldclass version of your own” 

So tell me, what is your strength? If you’d like toss a  few ideas around, holla at your girl. I’m here for ya!

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks to all who “like” the post, tell me what your strengths are?

    Reply

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