Maximizing your Strengths

If you want to reach your personal and leadership potential then it requires maximizing your strengths. This only happens if you develop and focus on the areas you are most skilled, talented, and strong in while avoiding your weaknesses. It takes being disciplined and being intentional if you want to become the best in your strengths. Many people have failed at maximizing their strengths because,

They have never discovered their strengths.

They spend more time sharpening their weaknesses than their strengths.

They try to be well rounded or a master of all trades.

They lose sight of their passions and dreams.

They resist change and forward movement.

They are not disciplined, focused, or intentional.

They fear risk and stay in their comfort zone.

They never move past their success or failure.

These things will only hold you back from your leadership and strength potential. If you desire maximizing your strengths then apply these three suggestions into your life:

Practice– Practice is an essential action a leader does to maximize their strengths. It requires both practice and time to become better in your strengths. It takes an average of 10,000 hours or 10 years to become the best in a given area. In “Talent is Overrated”, Geoff Colvin share 5 elements to practice:

1. It is designed specifically to improve performance.

2. It has to be repeated a lot.

3. Feedback on results must be continuously available.

4. It is highly demanding mentally.

5. It isn’t all that much fun.

If we want to be the best in our strengths then it’s going to take time and intentional practice.

Maximizing– The words maximizing means to “Make the best use of” and this is what we must do with our strengths. Great leaders know the importance of focusing on and using their strengths on a daily basis. To see the benefits of using your strengths then read What Happens When Using Your Strengths.

Develop- Being intentional in developing your strengths is a must for a leader. If a leader is not developing in their strengths and leadership ability then they won’t be leading for long. A leader should take time to focus on developing their strengths through a personal development plan. The plan might include reading, listening to lessons, mentorship, and attending workshops. The goal should be to do thing things which will allow you to become a strength based leader.

Question: How do you maximize your strengths?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I quit focusing so much time on shoring up my weaknesses. i was doing that so much I was weakening my strengths. Good thoughts Dan.

    • Anonymous

      Bill,
      Your on the right track. Glad you made the switch.

  • “They try to be well rounded or a master of all trades”

    I agree…we try to learn and be “experts” in everything…
    my friend used to play guitar and piano…he always told me he needed to pick one and get really great at it…if not…he would be mediocre at both…

    • Anonymous

      Arny,
      What a great example of focusing on one instrument to become the best at it. I hope your friend made the choice to do so. Thank you for adding to the post.

  • Dan, in what ways can you help someone that is resistant to change? What course of action do you take to help? When is it time to move on or do you ever and keep trying to help?

    • Anonymous

      Lincoln Parks,

      This is a big question because it has so many factors but I’ll give it my best shot.

      The 80/20 rule says 20 percent of your people will produce 80 percent of results/production. So a key would be to find the 20 percent and focus most of your time on them. These are the people who are moving and changing. Leaders should show care and hope to all but really focus on those people who produce and desire to move forward.

      The leader must set the example of change and show the why, need, importance, and benefits from it. Everyone fears or is resistant to change. But showing your people these things can help bring change in the person/organization. While this is true their are people who resist change no matter what and we should distant our self from them because they only hold everyone back. I would say the key is to know the person and rely on your intuition.

      These are a few general thoughts. Let me know if this helps and I’m always up to discussion this topic more.

      • Thanks for this Dan. Even though I have a thriving team there are always a few that are no on board with the vision of the team. I do like and believe in the 80/20 rule and I think you are right on point. I don’t try to find out what Leadership level I am on with each individual person so I can see how I should connect with them.

        Thank you so much for your insight it is very much appreciated.

        • Anonymous

          I’m so glad it helped.

          Every team no matter how good they are always has people who are dragging. Often what can happen is that those who drag often leave because they don’t feel comfortable with the achievers.

          I have not read it yet but have heard the book: Who Killed Change?: Solving the Mystery of Leading People Through Change by Ken Blanchard is a great one. Here is the amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Who-Killed-Change-Solving-Mystery/dp/0061778931/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_6

          • I will have to pick up a copy of that book Sounds like a must read. Thanks.

  • I spent so much time trying to be what others thought I should be and what I thought I should be that my strengths were not being used and there was atrophy in those areas. I then was given advice to be who God created me to be and it freed me. I was able to focus on what God has gifted me and sharpen those skill and strengthen those muscles. I am free now Being who God created me to be and that in and of it self has helped me to maximize my strengths.

    Good thoughts Dan!

    • Anonymous

      Jim,
      What great advice. Being who God has called you to be and do is so important when it come to living out your purpose and maximizing your strengths. Now that we know the importance of this, let’s share this same message with the people we come into contact with. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • I think that maximizing our strengths has a few different phases. First, we have to recognize them. Then, we structure activities that deliberately leverage our strengths. I think that alone will do a great job in increasing our strengths – because we will be getting much more experience in the areas of our strengths. And then finally, the intentional development of strengths is key. For me, this happens primarily through reading, being mentored, and constantly asking for feedback.

    • Anonymous

      Loren,
      Thank you for sharing the phases, your right on. I also would add leaders are then called to do the same with their people. The first stage is all about finding, developing, and using personal strengths. While the second stage is all about helping your people/team do the same. Doing this allows you and your people to become more productive and live a life of purpose.

  • Hmmm…God is in the process of redefining my thinking regarding my strengths and weaknesses. Both are from him, both serve a purpose and in my case both can be linked together. They sharpen each other and help keep me humble and centered on God.
    Example: It has always been easy for me to write (not saying I’m good, just that I like to write and am full of words)- strength. I am a perfectionist- can be a weakness, leaving me tied up in details that don’t matter. Both make me realize I have to have God guide and direct me.

    I’m sorry I can’t answer your question more fully, but it is not one I have an answer to at the moment. Not sure where God is leading me at the moment, but I will say it is self enlightening.

    • Anonymous

      TC Avey,

      In your example I would say then to focus more time on writing and less time being a perfectionist. I would think this would allow you to produce more. It’s hard to stop doing our weaknesses but I think it’s so essential. God has called you to write but often what can delay that is being a perfectionist.

      Everyone has both strengths and weakness and I believe God wants us to focus on our strength more than what we are not as good as. Just my thoughts after reading your comment.

  • Great post Dan. I work on them every day and I try to stay humble, making sure I do everything to His glory.

    • Anonymous

      Kimanzi,
      Daily working in our strengths while staying humble is so important. Thank you for adding to the post.

  • The biggest key for me is delegating out the things I either don’t enjoy doing or am not good at, and focusing strictly on my strengths. It doesn’t always work that way, but with our new board and developing more volunteers, I’m hoping by mid year to be able to focus strictly on operating in my strengths.

    • Anonymous

      Jason,
      If your able the goal should be to delegate weaknesses so you can focus on strengths. I hope your able to find volunteers that complement your weaknesses. I think a well rounded team is essential but a well rounded person is bad. Thank you for sharing.

      • You put it much better than I did – my goal is to delegate out my weaknesses so I can focus on my strengths. Here’s hoping it will happen.

        • Anonymous

          I’m sure it will. Great leaders like yourself make things like this happen.

  • Man, those are solid. I like “Maximizing”. Had to stop there and camp for a moment… it makes a lot of sense the we ought to know what we do well and use that to our advantage- get the most out of it (as opposed to taking it for granted and wasting time on efforts that we’re not gifted at).

    • Anonymous

      Stephen,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I have found the best people/leaders have found what they do well and then focus on developing and using their strengths. Thank you adding to the post.

  • Hey Dan:

    Great post there is enough evidence and research to show the benefits of focusing on your strengths. However I also believe that we need to leverage those strengths. For example, if your strength (natural talent x investment) is strategy at some point there will be a diminishing return on investing in strengthening strategy. It would much more of an impact if you focused on creating ambition/proactivity/vision into a strength which would leverage strategy.

    • Anonymous

      Good point James. Focusing on the areas which would allow you to leverage your strength is such an important point. I really like your example about strategy.

      Sorry the first comment did not go through. I don’t know what happened. Thank you for taking the time to re-write a comment.

  • This is great thought provoking stuff! In order to maximize my strengths, I must work very hard to ignore the little voice in my head that says, “What are you doing? You know this is going to be another failure!” God prompts me to go forward. But I have a tendancy to take my eyes off of Him (Just like Peter, standing there on the water, he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink.) If only I could keep my focus on Him.

    • Anonymous

      Susan,
      Ignoring those negative voices are so essential for achieving great things. I have found keeping our eyes on God helps, easier said than done though:)

      Keep working on your strengths while avoiding your weaknesses.

  • Totally agree, too many people don’t spend enough time practicing on their strengths.
    M_

    • Anonymous

      Marc,
      Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Thank you for this post. It comes at the right time. I have been working a few part time jobs and I’m drained. And I realised I’m doing most of them half heartedly trying to fit everything in the little time I have. With that, I have decided to cut down to writing for my full time job and one freelance writing. I will develop my strength in this area.

    • Anonymous

      Jamie,
      What a great idea. Stopping those areas that drain you so you can focus on strength areas. I know you passion and energy level will go up when you do this. Good luck:)

  • Your posts are always so practical and helpful. If I need to refocus and get some good info, I know dropping in on your blog will always help out!

    • Anonymous

      Thank you Andrew. It means a lot. My goal is to write practice and applicable content so anyone can learn and grow.

  • I don’t really have a plan for maximizing my strengths, but like the idea a lot.
    I’ve committed to an attitude of always facing my fears and accepting challenges from pretty early age one. When I was scared of speaking in front of people, for example, I started preaching on the streets in my hometown in Germany until I god so good that hundreds would stand and listen. I love to stretch myself, step out and learn from my failures.
    I love how practical your posts are, Dan. I’ll try to get down to a more practical approach in my writing as well!
    Bless you!

    • Anonymous

      Daniel,

      Sorry for not responding sooner. What a great testimony about you facing your fears and allowing God to use you at a young age.

      Have your heard the books Strength Based Leadership by Tom Rath or Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham? Those two books might really help you you better understand the topic of strengths.

      Thank you for your complement. I have also really enjoyed reading your blog. I look forward connecting more with you this year and learning from each other.

      • I didn’t hear about those. WIll put them on my reading list, if you recommend them. I’ve read Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath, which comes with a pretty comprehensive test and that really helped me understand the way I function better!
        Yes, it’ll be a great year and I’d love to connect more! Let me know if you have any constructive feedback on my writing or Blog, since I’m still pretty new to the blogging game (10 months).

        • Anonymous

          I think you would enjoy them. Strength Finder 2,9 is also a great one. Strength Based Leadership also comes with a test.

          If I think of anything specific I’ll let you know. A few things everyone new blogger needs to know is the importance of the content and consistency. Finding your passions and niche area then staying focused on writing in that area is key. Just some basics.