Playing to Your Strengths (and Focusing on “Not to Dos”)

The first real exercise I did in terms of taking stock of who I am and what I want, long before the creation of the Purpose Planner was writing down my strengths. Not my weaknesses. Just my strengths. I then asked myself a simple question. How often am I playing to my strengths in my work and my life?  If you have never done this before, I would recommend taking 30 minutes to write down what you are great at. Then ask yourself how often you get to tap into those strengths in your day-to-day life?

The truth is that it’s our strengths that make up the best of who we are. When we find ourselves in a position to display those strengths, there is a comfortable ease with which we go about our business. The most successful people I know are those that simply play to their strengths more than the others around them. By extension, they also tend to be harder working (“it’s not work if you love it”) and more passionate about what they do and strive to constantly grow within their chosen area of expertise.

Conversely, for those that haven’t uncovered their passions, this often results in not being able to play to their strengths in their day-to-day lives. They tend to be shorter-tempered, more stressed and feel over-worked.

Part of setting out your 6-month Roles and Goals in the Purpose Planner is establishing what you are good at and which strengths you will tap into, when going after your goals. If your day job doesn’t fill that space, is there some other outlet that you can explore that showcases your unique strengths? 

In the same spirit of staying positive and focused, I also largely stopped thinking about my weaknesses. If we indulge ourselves, there is no end to activities or skills that we aren’t that great at and could possibly improve. Instead, I made a list of specific behaviors I believed made me less effective, and which I could consciously avoid. The list ranged from being less impatient, delegating more, interrupting people, failing to actively listen, not taking out my personal frustrations on my wife and kids, so on and so forth.

Every week I now write down 3-5 items in the ‘Not to Do’ box of my weekly dashboard and make it a point to actively avoid those behaviors. It doesn’t always work of course, but I do find myself being more mindful about the way I conduct myself, and perhaps that makes my energy a little more positive for those around me.