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Leadership Thought #376 – Play to Your Strengths

June 26, 2012

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Life is much easier if you play to your strengths.

When I worked for Gallup many years ago, they had a great saying, “you can’t put in what God left out.”  Many of us spend too much effort trying to be what we are not instead of focusing on what makes us truly special.  We all have natural strengths and weaknesses.  Some people are great at details while others grasp the big picture effortlessly.  Some people are great at 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 is endless.  I believe every one of us has gifts and talents that separate us from the pack.

When we are doing what comes naturally and playing to our strengths, life tends to go a bit smoother.  There is less stress and angst over outcomes.  Instead of struggling with what is required, we feel self-confident in our ability to get the job done.   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 at it in the first place.

Unfortunately, throughout most of our education and work experience, we leave the role of identifying where we are falling short in the hands of others.  They are also the ones pushing us to improve in areas where we could be mediocre at best.  When you work for someone else, it is rare that you will only ever get to do those things you are good at.  However, smart 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 being honest with ourselves and others about where we thrive and where we struggle.  This is the key to being able to succeed.  If you only ever do your job to get a paycheck, you will inevitably lose interest, get frustrated, and achieve less than stellar results.  But if you show up to work every day with a purpose, feel you are well suited to what you are doing, and see yourself making a positive difference, you will be amazed by what’s possible.

What God put in is much easier to focus on than what was left out.