Are You Maximizing What You Got?

By: Beth Tabak

"People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering." Saint Augustine

What you’ve got + What you need = What you want .... Right? Well... maybe or maybe not. We often strive to fill that gap between what we’ve got and what we want focusing our attention on weaknesses. In fact, I often have suggested this strategy myself in coaching sessions. Yet recently I have been investigating another point of view. Are we spending so much time and energy trying to get up to speed where we are lacking that we miss the opportunity to leverage and maximize the strengths, talents, and resources that we already have?

Even our brain seems to develop to our strengths and talents. In Now, Discover Your Strengths, a book based on the Gallup study of over 2 million people, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. the authors explain how the brain’s threads are woven. To summarize, they say that your “synapses create your talents". The synapse is a connection between your brain cells, called neurons. Your brain grows quickly and by age 3 you have about a hundred billion neurons with fifteen thousand synaptic connections. The odd part is by your 16th birthday you have lost 1/2 of your connections.

Don’t be concerned though, the authors explain “your smartness and your effectiveness depend on how well you capitalize on your strongest connections. Nature forces you to shut down billions of connections precisely so that you can be freed up to exploit the ones remaining."

John Bruer describes in the book The Myth of the First Three Years, nature has developed three ways for you to learn as an adult. 1) Continue to strengthen your existing synaptic connections (as happens when you perfect a talent with relevant skills and knowledge), 2) keep losing more of your extraneous connections (as also happens when you focus on your talents and allow other connections to deteriorate), or 3) develop a few more synaptic connections (which expends the most energy). With regard to skills, the authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths suggest “If you learn a skill, it will help you get a little better, but it will not cover for a lack of talent. Instead, as you build your strengths, skills will actually prove most valuable when they are combined with genuine talent."

So are you ready to get acquainted with your strengths? Here are a couple sources to help you with this:

The book Now, Discover Your Strengths mentioned above by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. offers the www.StrengthsFinder.com Profile to anyone who invests in the book. This profile helps you to identify your Top 5 Strengths plus the book itself contains great information.You can find this book on my website or just about any book store.

The VIA Signature Strengths Survey by Martin E.P. Seligman is available for free at www.authentichappiness.com along with a number of other assessments including one for children. This survey provides you with your top 5 signature themes.

You may be surprised by what shows up as your strengths even though it makes sense once you think about it. Life will begin to flow when you are using your strengths which is one reason why we don’t recognize them. To us our strengths seem like no big deal, or we think everyone thinks that way.

So I ask you:

Where are you wasting time on something that is not in the area of your top strengths and talents?

Are there tasks that can be delegated to someone who has the strength to do it exceptionally?

How can you set up your business and home so that the people involved are developing their strong points?

Does this mean you shouldn’t bother learning a new skill? Not at all. But if the new skill is in line with one of your strengths you will find it easier to leverage and maximize that skill which is built on a strength. Finally, how can you take what you’ve got and maximize it to make a positive impact in your life and the life of others?

Starting Now!

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