Harnessing Our Strengths is a Win for Everyone

A co-worker once told me that we all should be developing our weaknesses.  I agreed to some limited extent, but ultimately, was not 100% persuaded.

Instead, I am more focused on the beauty and gift of our strengths!

Coincidentally, this topic came up in the current chapter I’m reading in Principles, by Ray Dahlio. (I’m way overdue on finishing this book, but it is excellent.  Highly recommended!)

A couple nuggets from this brief chapter are worth noting:

  • Everyone has  at least  one thing they are better at (vs. you/me)
  • Be aware of your weaknesses, and put guardrails around them

I agree with this 100%.  There are some powerful, real-world effects in these statements:

Part of job satisfaction depends on using our strengths and guarding our weaknesses (along with many other aspects)

For me, this topic of harnessing strengths has a very deep relationship with job satisfaction, and even life satisfaction or happiness.  It touches on our human nature to desire being valued and in control (relatively speaking).  In plain terms, we excel and enjoy doing things that we’re good at.  Simple concept, right?  Well….

Surprisingly, we still get it wrong…a lot.  It is shocking to me to read the statistics on company satisfaction ratings and turnover rates that spiral out of control because organizations don’t help employees do this.

I don’t want this to turn into a bash on those companies or managers, but instead, we owe a round-of-applause to those who get it right!  This is a “win, win” when the individual is in his/her sweet spot, and the overall business reaps the rewards too.  Hallelujah!

On the flip side, being in a forced role that ignores strengths and puts pressure on weaknesses would be very stressful.

Realistically, a job is never going to be perfect.  Some healthy pressure and growth challenges are good and natural.  But being stuck in a rut of having to do things you’re not wired to do is unfortunate for both the company and the human being.

I think all great Managers and Business Leaders should aspire to setting up this “win, win” environment for their team.

As we consider our own strengths and weaknesses, here is some more food for thought:

  • A “DIY” approach is not always good. Instead, seek help!

As an Engineer, I think the desire to “Do It Yourself” is an innate quality of my nerdy breed.  We love solving problems.  (I literally used to solve math problems during the other “boring classes” in middle school, just for fun).

Tackling problems by yourself can be a good thing, but that’s not always true.  I’m sure Founders of startups can attest to this.  The DIY trait is an accelerator at first, but quickly becomes a road barrier if the Founder does not start to trust others to help implement the vision.

This is 100% true in large organizations also, or sports teams, or marriages, or any situation where people are working together.  Other people around us have skills that can complement our own.  We should keep this in mind, every day, and seek ways to apply it.

As Dahlio states in the book, everyone has at least one thing they are better at (vs. you/me).  Not only should we be using our strengths, but we should also be setting up our peers for success.

This is when teams of people can all reach their superhero-level empowerment, which makes the person, the team, and the organization better.

 

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