Find and Build Your Strengths

Each of us has natural strengths and weaknesses. We all have unique qualities and character traits that differentiates us from one another. That's what makes us who we are.


I recently listened to a Dave Ramsey Entreleadership podcast hosted by Chris Locurto. In the podcast, Chris interviewed Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0, who talked about the importance of determining and developing your strengths. He made a great point about how sometimes people focus on developing an aspect of their life that isn't a strength, which oftentimes leads to results that aren't as good as they could be.


For example, in football who's better served spending hours, days, months and years practicing football skills - "Rudy" or Joe Montana? In the movie "Rudy", he spends years as the underdog on the team in hopes that he'll get in the game for just one play. While it's great that he eventually achieves this goal and gets in the game, were all the years and efforts spent to achieve it used most efficiently and effectively?


Could he have spent that time and energy on something that he was naturally gifted in and accomplished even greater things? Could he have focused on natural strengths rather than putting so much focus into making up for his weaknesses and achieved even more?


On the contrary, football legend Joe Montana who had natural attributes, physical traits and strengths for the game made his focus on the sport produce amazing results.


Is a student who has four A's and one D in their course work better served shifting all their focus onto bringing that D up to a mediocre better grade or on developing the four A's even further which are likely natural strengths to produce amazing results in those areas?


There are probably different answers for different people, but I think this is an important point to consider. For some people, pursuing a passion that isn't necessarily a strength may be something they desire to do. However, some people may consider the concept of finding and building on their strengths to achieve remarkable results a better choice of action.


We're all different. Everyone has different strengths. There's certaintly something to be said for being well rounded and being good at a wide range of things. However, being excellent and remarkable at one or a few things can be what truly sets someone apart from the masses.


Let's take me for example. I naturally cannot sing very well (or at all....haha). I think it would be great to have the ability to sing well. However, I don't think that I would get much benefit from spending time and money practicing singing, going to singing classes or taking voice lessons. Would it help improve my marginal ability to sing? Probably so in some minor insignificant way, but would it take me from being a poor singer to a great singer? Likely not. 


What are your strengths? Are you developing a weakness or a strength? Are your efforts most effective? Let's find and build our strengths to take ourselves from good to great.






Refuse to Settle

In a time where so many people are looking to do just enough to get by, we need to make the conscious decision to be the one who goes above and beyond. We need to be the one who refuses to settle. Refuse to settle for anything less than your best effort. Refuse to settle for second best. Refuse to settle for not going the distance. Refuse to settle for giving up. Refuse to settle for doing things halfway. 


We can't always control the results, but we can always control our effort and what we put into things. I think we should remove "good enough" from our vocabulary. Sometimes it can be all too easy to say, "well, that's good enough", but at the end of the day if the effort was just "good enough", then it wasn't our best. 


Refuse to settle for "good enough". Refusing to settle for "good enough" builds trust. When people see that you always give your best effort, they know they can count on you. I bet you wouldn't ask a friend who you know cuts every corner possible to do something important for you. No, you'd want the friend who never settles for "good enough" and only puts forth their best effort to help you out.


Here's a small example I heard a while back - shopping carts. Everytime I'm finished unloading the cart and am tempted for a brief moment to leave it propped up on the curb in the parking lot, I remind myself that I need to give my best even with shopping carts. It sounds silly, but refuse to settle for "good enough" even with your shopping cart. Be the person who takes it all the way back to the return stall or store entrance even if it seems like it's three-fourths of a mile away.


It starts with the small things. Don't settle for "good enough" in the small, everyday tasks and you won't settle for "good enough" in the big things. 


Will you refuse to settle? If you gave this a read, let me know. Leave a comment below or send me a tweet or comment on Facebook. Love hearing the feedback. If you think it's worth sharing, share the link with your network or email list. I appreciate you doing so!






Are You Talking or Listening?

Sometimes, it's easy to forget that our anatomy provides us with two ears and one mouth. Sometimes, we can act like we have two mouths and one ear.

We all can probably think of at least one person who when talking to them, you can't get a word in edge wise. How does it feel when you're done talking with them? You probably get the sense that they had no concern for you, only for letting you know what they had to say.

Talking is perfectly fine. Communication is critical , but we also need to remember that if we're the one talking, we're not learning. When talking, you're sharing what you've already learned. When listening, you're learning - whether that be what the person is talking about or more about the person speaking. 

Sometimes, we need to ask more questions and give ourselves more opportunity to listen. Listening to people empowers both them and us. It empowers them to share their opinions and stories. It empowers us to learn from others' perspective.

We're oftentimes challenged to have all the answers, however it's generally the person who readily admits to needing more answers that understands the need to ask more questions. 

Don't lose the opportunity to ask questions. Take advantage of each situation where you can listen and learn more than you could by talking. There's a reason why you have two ears and one mouth.






Don't Hate the Hurdles

There are probably few people that hate problems more than me. I like everything to go smooth and easy with no hurdles or challenges. There's probably an argument for me being a perfectionist. I just like things to go "right", the first time...everytime.


Here's a silly example. Have you ever had your vehicle's windshield hit by a rock? I'm the person who puts way too much thought and "analysis" into why a rock hit my windshield, "if I would have been driving in a different lane, the rock wouldn't have hit my vehicle." "If only I would have been going a different speed, I wouldn't have been near that rock..." "If I would have left just 15 seconds earlier or later, I would have missed that rock...", etc., etc. Ultimately, knowing the whole time that trying to figure those things out won't help, because there was no way to know it was going to happen when it did.

I don't feel like that's a bad thing, because I believe we should all strive for excellence. But, what I learn more everyday is that it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes things happen. Sometimes things go wrong that are completely out of our control. Sometimes it's just part of life and being alive.


At the end of the day, most things happen as a result of things that we've done and some things happen that we have no control over. It's our duty to do everything we can for ourselves, our family, our co-workers, our customers and our friends to prevent problems from happening, but when problems do happen we need to take advantage of them. 


We need to learn from our problems. We need to use them to make us appreciate the good times that are problem free more. We need to use them as tools to help ourselves and others prevent similar problems in the future.


I don't think any of us want problems, but they definitely give us a different perspective. They make us a little more thankful. They make us work a little bit harder. They make us find out what we're really made of. 


The success after the struggle always feels a little bit better than when everything went perfect, so don't hate the hurdles. Use them.






Maintenance Is Important

When I was a kid, I loved playing in my turtle sandbox. It was one of those big green plastic turtles that had a removeable "shell" covering the sand. I'd spend hours playing in that sandbox, but when I was done I wouldn't always remember to put the shell back on. You can guess what happened. The day I'd leave the shell off would be the day it rained and that would mess the sand up. It's hard to play in hard, wet sand. So then, I'd get upset that I would have to wait several days for the sand to dry back out before I could play in it again or ask my parents if I could get new sand to replace the wet sand. Fortunately, my parents took that opportunity to teach me the importance of maintenance and taking care of my things, noting that if I wanted to enjoy the benefits of something I couldn't neglect it. I had to take care of it. 

This little story from my childhood applies on many levels. For most things, maintenance is important. For vehicles, it's changing the oil and checking tire pressures. For yards, it's cutting the grass and pulling the weeds. For our bodies, it's making healthy decisions and exercising. For friends and family, it's hanging out and communicating regularly. For business, it's doing a good job and taking care of your customers. The list goes on.


It's easy sometimes when we're in pursuit of our dreams to get so busy that we can lose sight of other important aspects that need our maintenance. We need to remind ourselves to take care of all the things that really matter around us. It does us little good to be so laser focused on obtaining one goal, that we let other important areas within our life fall behind. 

Keeping a good balance and all aspects of our life maintained isn't easy. It can be a real challenge. I haven't mastered it, but I'm working towards it. Because at the end of the day, maintenance is important.

*Do you have any stories or examples where you've found this to be true? Share them below in the comments.