You have a unique set of talents and strengths, but as an entrepreneur, what you do with those strengths is what sets you apart from the next person who does similar work (and offers similar services) as you.
In order to become our best selves and reach our true potential, we must focus on maximizing our strengths! Here are six ways to maximize your strengths:
1. realize your natural (known) strengths
Strengths are frequently thought of in terms of black or white - either something is a strength or it's a weakness. But, it's a little more than that.
There are actually two types of strengths:
- Known; realized; natural
- Unknown; unrealized; hidden
Both of these strengths are things you are really good at and bring you energy and happiness.
On the contrary, there are two types of weaknesses:
- Weaknesses - things that you're not that good at and drain your energy
- Learned behaviors - thing that you're good at, but still drain your energy
Learned behaviors are something to watch out for, especially if you come from the corporate world where learned behaviors are often times encouraged, rewarded, and praised. We all can learn how to do something - after all, skills and knowledge can be acquired - but, if it drains your energy, then it's still a type of weakness for you and can still get in your way.
Download the Clues to Talent printable planner pages from The Strong Business Planner™ which are designed to help you discover your natural talents by reflecting on five different clues. These questions were highlighted in the 1992 book, Soar With Your Strengths.
2. identify your hidden strengths
As I mentioned in this blog post - How to Uncover Your Hidden Strengths, your hidden (or unrealized, unknown) strengths can be an area of opportunity for you and should be an area you work on developing. I call this your strengths development zone.
Here is a quick way to identify your hidden strengths:
- Success - your strength is something that makes you successful
- Instinct - it is something that comes natural to you, that you can't help but be drawn to it
- Growth - in this area, you grow, nurture, and develop into a better you
- Need - it is something that fills your innate needs
- Energy - it is something that you have a high amount of energy for and look forward to spending time doing
3. strengthen your strengths
A way to maximize your strengths is to work in your strengths more often! Your strengths are like a muscle. They must be "worked out" to develop and grow so that they don't atrophy. But, don't overwork them, or they will become fatigued, just like your muscles.
Here are ways to strengthen your strengths:
- Identify what your strengths are and where and when to use them
- Ask yourself - "How can I apply my strengths better or more"
- Seek ways to improve and nurture your strengths frequently
- Share your strengths with others
- Organize your day and life around your strengths
- Practice your strengths every day
4. manage your weaknesses and limit your learned behaviors
Just as powerful as strengthening your strengths is knowing how to manage your behaviors and limiting your learned behaviors. Since fixing your weaknesses will never lead to success, we won't focus on fixing them. But, you must have an awareness of your weaknesses in order to better appreciate your strengths and apply your strengths.
Here are ways to manage your weaknesses:
- Intentionally use your strengths to see where they may be able to support you in areas of weakness
- Partner with people who have strengths that are your weaknesses to support your weaknesses - for example, through outsourcing or joining a mastermind program
- Be aware of your learned behaviors and make an adjustment to decrease time spent in those areas so that you don't become exhausted
- Determine if the activity of weakness is really, truly necessary; if not, cut it out of your day
- Increase the volume of your strengths to help manage for a particular weakness - for example, 'turn up the volume' of one of your Activator strength to manage the analysis paralysis you may get from focusing too much in strategic thinking and all the possibilities that there are, so that you can just get started
5. daily reflection
Journaling and daily reflection can help you increase your awareness and appreciation for your strengths.
At the end of your day, ask yourself:
- How did I see one of my strengths at work today? Jot it down and include a few examples.
- How did I feel when I was using my strengths?
- Did I get caught in a strength basement? (see below)
- Did I spend time in areas of weakness or learned behavior?
- What am I looking forward to doing again or more of?
6. beware of overdone strengths
Sometimes we spend too much time in our strengths that we move into a "basement" of that strength - this is the point when our strength is overused and we fatigue ourselves...out of which grows frustration.
On the flip side, the "balconies" of your strength are areas of your strength that you bring you a great amount of happiness, energy, passion, and excitement.
Here are ways to avoid a strengths basement:
- Be aware of when you're stressed, nervous, frustrated, or annoyed
- Ask yourself - "Why am I feeling this way?" Often times, it's not a weakness you've identified, but rather a basement of your strength that is overused.
- Intentionally use your strengths to see where they may be able to support you in basement areas
- Learn relaxation or mindset techniques to calm your feelings and shift your awareness back up to your strength balcony