Focusing on Strengths is Greatest Development Potential
Last week, I started reading the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. You would want to look for StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath which is the newest edition but doesn’t give all the surrounding material the way the original does. These are best used together.
I have read the first part that explains the the thinking and premise of the book. I have also taken my StrengthsFinder questionnaire, but that will be posts for another time. This post is about the premise of the book.
The authors make a case that the biggest opportunity for growth is not with your weaknesses but with your strengths. The authors talk about three components to developing a strength: knowledge, skills, and talent.
Knowledge and skills are something that you can learn. You can go to a class and pick up a list of questions to ask to understand how people are feeling or techniques to giving a good presentation. The authors explain that in order to really develop a strength you should have a natural talent for that strength. When a natural talent is present the individual will have a larger interest. A larger interest in something tends to lead a person to want to learn more and use the strength more.
The talent is “hardwired” into our brains at a very early age. The book explains how the neuro-network in our brains are developed. The network has billions of connections as a child but as we get older some connections become disconnected. If this didn’t happen we would have sensory overload. The connections that are left are path networks that allow us to make millisecond decisions and filtering. These networks unveil our talents.
A talent only becomes a strength if you combine it with knowledge and skills.
There are 34 themes for strengths based on their studies. For example, Relator is a theme. The Relator theme means you are pulled toward people you already know. You do not shy away from meeting new people but you derive a great deal of pleasure from being around your close friends. The book continues to describe ways to use this talent and ways to work with people who have this talent.
The authors do not say that we shouldn’t develop any weaknesses. They do say that developing weaknesses is really damage control. For instance, if you don’t have the talent of empathy you may not pick up on signs of how people are feeling. This may give people the impression you are a jerk with no feelings like a robot. You can learn questions to ask someone to understand how they are feeling but it may come over as forced or uneasy. This is better than not doing it all. Damage control is better than leaving a wake of destruction.
The more I read this book, the more I tend to believe in what the authors are saying. I think of myself and what I has my interest is where I tend to go to learn and develop. So, how do we focus on our strengths and develop those? How do we put others in a position to take advantage of their strengths so they are successful?
What are your talents that you can develop into strengths?