You want to be more productive but you don’t know how. You’re easily distracted and find work to be a drag. That’s because your work does not allow you to use your strengths.
Know your strengths at work
Knowing your strengths = knowing how you can contribute to others.
Think about what you do on a weekly basis at work. What tasks are you much stronger at than others? What are your strengths and interests?
Your time is precious. You don’t want to spend time doing things you dislike.
The time you take to slog on, learn about, and improve on your weaknesses will be better spent practising what you are already good at.
In this same period of time, chances are, you will be more productive when you’re working on your strengths than when you’re not. Plus, the people around you – AND you – will feel happier.
Let me use myself as an example. I love reading about the human psyche and working on websites, but I absolutely cannot understand financial reports or statistics.
At work, I jump straight into reading psychological research or editing websites – I’m excited to do them, and I’m quicker, better, and more productive.
But it takes me forever to learn a new statistical method for analysing data. It’s dry, uninteresting, and the difficulty discourages me so much. I swear I’ll pay for someone to do all these analyses for me. I’m sure there are many people who love working with numbers.
The point is, people are willing to pay for tasks they dislike doing. Find out how your strengths can meet the needs of these people and help them achieve their goals.
Know your strengths at home
What about in non-work situations? What do people thank you for? What do you help others with – willingly, not begrudgingly?
Your strengths can be found anywhere – your hobby, your passion, your lifestyle.
Maybe you take photographs. Maybe you make customized cards. Maybe you cook. Maybe you organize. Maybe you sing. Maybe you plan trips. Maybe you source for the perfect gifts. Maybe you give fitness and nutrition advice.
Whatever it is you like, leverage your strengths! You have a huge potential of adding value to other people.
Let me use myself as an example again. I enjoy the challenge of spring cleaning, but ironing bores me. In fact I love to spring clean so much that my parents have become wary about me asking if we can dispose things we hardly use anymore.
Why does this matter?
Because I’ll be more than happy to help clean up around the house if my mum needs it. I’ll gladly help a friend with packing and shifting. I’ll put all my energy in, which means a much cleaner home + higher productivity + a happier mum and friend. The accomplishment and joy I experience by making a difference is indescribable.
It’s a completely different matter when I’m asked to iron. It wouldn’t be top on my list of priorities. I’ll drag my feet on it. When – or maybe if – I start ironing, I’ll do a few pieces half-heartedly. I don’t want to spend hours ironing. I’m frustrated from boredom, mum is frustrated from my lack of effort, and no one is happy.
What you love to do doesn’t have to be a huge thing. It doesn’t have to be knowing how to manage a business, or knowing how to rope in sales.
What matters is that you are driven to do it – something that others are unmotivated to do or will feel unhappy doing. THAT is where you can add the most value to the lives of others. THAT is where you will be the most productive.
Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.
– Marilyn vos Savant
How do you know your strengths?
Answer these questions to find out where your strengths lie:
- What are you the most proud of the past year? The past month?
- Where do your interests lie? Notice what you do in your free time.
- What are the things on your to-do list that gets your attention first, and that you complete fairly quickly?
- What do people thank you for? What do people approach you to help them with? What will you be most willing to help others with?
- What tasks are you good at? What strengths allow you to do these tasks? Tasks are specific (eg. collecting photographs in organized folders, keeping recipes for future use, researching before making a decision to buy something). Strengths are universal (eg. gathering information).
If you’re stumped, try filling in these blanks:
- I’ll be more than happy to help ________ if someone needs it.
- I’ll put all my energy into _______, which leads to _________.
- I end up with a huge sense of accomplishment from _________.
As for your weaknesses, think about:
- But when I’m asked to help with __________, it wouldn’t be top on my list of priorities. I’ll drag my feet on it.
- When I start _________, I’ll do __________ half-heartedly.
- I don’t want to spend hours _______.
- I don’t help much when I ________, as compared to when I ____________.
Master your strengths. Outsource your weaknesses.
– Ryan Kahn