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STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES Mark Twain said, “We don’t deal too much in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.” I am guessing that is true of almost everyone. Centuries ago, a man named Paul wrote that everyone should have a correct estimate of himself (The Bible, Romans 12:3). We tend to either obsess on our weaknesses or become over confident in our strengths. In the next two blogs, we are going to look at each area, and see how we can grow. Let’s look first at your strengths. Your strengths are found in the things that seem easy to learn and easy to do. These strengths are often identified as behaviors, characteristics, inherent talents, learned knowledge, and transferable skills. You have focused on these areas, perhaps studied or trained formally in them, and your disciplined effort made you more proficient and skilled than the average person. At a very young age, we naturally develop interests resulting from our exposure and experiences. As we think about them and learn about them, they become areas of strength. Some of us will have some genetic strengths, abilities we were born with, but science shows us that the majority of our strengths stem from our interests and exposure. These interests develop through our curiosity and willingness to explore. Our inquisitiveness emboldens us to learn more about these areas through personal exploration and experience. Experience gained becomes a strength that is available to us for the rest of our lives. Strengths can however also come about as a result of the examples and role models we have. For instance, you might have watched your parents handle things in a certain way when you were young, and watching them deeply impressed you. Though you weren’t an active participant, you were a keenly interested observer, and you gained a foundation for performing that way later yourself. This became the foundation for strength. Many years later you find yourself in a similar situation. Even though you have never been in that place before, and you have no prior experience, you instinctively know what to do. People who see you handle the situation are amazed, they think you’re a genius, and can’t quit talking about your “natural talent.” Truth is, you are strong in these areas because of behaviors you observed and admired at an earlier age. All of us have these kinds of strengths that are waiting for us. We can engage them and move our lives and careers forward in a positive way. Knowing your strengths will, for instance, help you to become more resourceful during difficult moments of your life. It will place in an optimal position to take advantage of critical opportunities that only become available when you’re focused on the right kinds of things. You will naturally focus on the right things that have the biggest impact on your life. You will:

  • save time by focusing on things that produce the greatest returns.

  • become more resourceful and make better decisions.

  • raise your standards and therefore improve your results.

  • contribute more to others and the world.

  • improve your self-confidence.

  • develop clarity about your future.

  • increase your leadership capacity.

You can start assessing your strengths by asking yourself some questions. I suggest you get a notebook or make a folder on your computer to save them for further study.

  • What are my strongest character attributes? Think about the words that people use to describe you, or you would use to describe yourself. For instance, are you courageous, energetic, focused, helpful, productive, caring, disciplined, flexible, motivated, outgoing, trustworthy, warm, determined, artistic, analytical, adventurous, compassionate, optimistic, patient, curious, inspiring, organized, responsible, precise, team-oriented, etc?

  • What strengths have assisted me most?

  • What would [person who knows me very well] say are my greatest strengths?

  • What qualities could I not do without?

  • What do I do especially well?

  • What seems easy to learn and easy to do?

  • What indispensable knowledge do I have? How does this function as a strength?

  • What activities fascinated me when I was a child?

  • What skills have I learned rapidly and mastered quickly?

  • What skills, abilities, and/or qualities account for my greatest successes?

  • What activities totally capture my attention, and time flies?

  • Where do I have the ability to be outstanding? Where have I been considered above average?

  • What part of my current job do I do better than most on the team?

If get stuck, consider asking a few people you know to help provide you with some insights. These people may very well see things that you might not notice or consider important. Sometimes these things you overlook that can have the biggest impact on your life. After you have sorted out your strengths, it’s important to do something with your knowledge. Find some time to consider and answer these questions. Then get at it! You are strong! You have much to give the world.

  • Which of my strengths would I like to improve upon?

  • Which strengths are most important with accomplishing my goals?

  • What strengths will help me to become the person I seek to be?

  • What is my plan to make this happen?

  • When will I start?

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