#5 on my, 99 Life Tips – A Listis: Practice Your Strengths.
The idea here is primarily a matter of focus. Time spent patching up weaknesses and repairing deficiencies doesn’t pay off as well as effort spent when you simply practice your strengths.
The second part of the equation is the old adage, ”practice makes perfect”. Therefore, think not only of deploying your strengths, but of working on (practicing) them.
This one likely seems counter-intuitive for several underlying psychological reasons. This article from Zapier, by Jessica Greene has this to say:
“various studies have shown that when we focus on developing our strengths, we grow faster than when trying to improve our weaknesses. Plus, people who use their strengths are happier, less stressed, and more confident.”Jessica Greene, Zapier
The same article cites a 2016 study showing that people believe two simultaneous things about themselves (their personalities):
1- Strengths are permanent features that are here to stay and will persist into the future.
2- Weaknesses (in the form of undesirable traits) are more easy to change than they really are.
It turns out neither of these is true. These implicit personality beliefs fool us. We think that we can easily change undesirable character flaws, while taking our personal assets for granted. The reality is those who identify their strengths and work to hone and perfect them achieve better results than those who think they can easily change their less desirable characteristics.
As anecdotal evidence, one can look at the performance of Stephen Curry. Already the most prolific and successful 3-point shooter in NBA history, Curry worked hard to make himself an even more potent 3-point scoring threat. He increased his range. He decreased the time it takes him to get a shot away. And he honed his passing skills. These were already MVP caliber strengths for Curry, but his renewed focus on those strengths are resulting in personal records for him during the current season. He is on pace to win the NBA scoring title despite being the focus of his opponent’s defenses game after game. Take a look at this article from the San Jose Mercury News for more on Curry practicing his strengths.
Whether you are an MVP in your job or your various roles in life, hopefully Curry’s example will inspire you that you can be even better. Take those strengths you already have and make them stronger. Don’t take them for granted. Polish them, hone them, and deploy them with even more confidence and accompanying success.
If you’re wondering what your strengths are, the Zapier article, linked above, also offers several resources to help you identify them, several of which are free online.