Playing To Your Strengths
I talk a lot of about creating habits and persevering through any and all adversity. It is extremely important to develop strong habits to help you persevere when things get tough, but what is equally important is self-awareness and putting yourself in a great environment.
When I talk about self-awareness, I mean understanding yourself at an incredibly deep level. Understanding what you enjoy and what you naturally have an affinity for. I spent 4 -1/2 years in Engineering school and while I learned a ton and enjoyed a lot of aspects of engineering, I knew deep down that it was not a good career for me. Why? I did not know at the time, but the hours and hours spent in computer labs running experiments, collecting data and doing advanced calculus to find solutions, was not my forte. It was not my strength. I have always been good at math, but that does not mean it is an appropriate career path for me.
Towards the end of my engineering career, I was fortunate enough to get into one of the top sales internships in the country. The first thing I had to do was take a series of personality tests to really understand who I was, what I was passionate about and how I handled stress in various situations. I learned so much about myself. I learned why engineering school was so tough to endure for me in particular. I understood why I enjoyed entrepreneurship and networking so much and why most of my engineering buddies did not. It was absolutely amazing to me. Everyone needs to experience this. It is so liberating.
There is a great book that everybody needs to buy, called “StrengthsFinder 2.0”. This book has a test that will identify your top 5 strengths – helping you understand what the best environment is for you to be successful. The book is full of recommendations and tips to help you focus on improving the things that you are naturally gifted at. The whole premise of the book is that you can only marginally increase your skill-level at certain things that are not particular strengths of yours. On the contrary, you have an incredible capacity for growth in areas that are your natural strengths. Simply put – stop trying to improve your weakness and focus on things you are already good at. You will find more enjoyment in them anyway.
This book really is a great starting point for understanding who you are. There may be some things that really surprise you, as they did me. Once you understand who you are, you can then begin incorporating the habits that we have been talking about over the past few weeks. The reason that most people do not succeed is because they do not take the time to understand how to put themselves in the best possible environment that plays to their strengths.
Listen to your intuition – your emotions. They are usually a key indicator, tied directly to a burning desire deep within you. When something sucks the energy out of you, fight to understand why. You might just be in an environment not suited for your strengths. This takes work, but once you find or create the perfect environment for yourself, life becomes an exciting playground and the drudgery and misery most people experience on a daily basis, disappears.