They’ve been lying to us since we were kids.
While well-intentioned, our parents, teachers, mentors, and coaches have consistently preached that turning our weaknesses into strengths is the shortest path to success.
This assumption stems from the misconception that weaknesses are the biggest obstacles to success.
In a study of 1.2 million employees, Gallup’s StrengthsFinder found that employees who focused on their strengths were 7.8% more productive, and teams that focused on strengths were 12.5% more productive.
Research done in 2015 showed that individuals who are aware of their strengths and use them to overcome challenges exhibit higher levels of resilience in the face of adversity.
The 2001 classic, Now, Discover Your Strengths, revealed that individuals are more likely to develop new skills and abilities by identifying and building upon one’s strengths, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and successful career.
Furthermore, no one cares about your weaknesses.
Frankly, no one cares about you.
People care about what you can do for them.
Doubling into your strengths isn’t a novel idea.
I may believe in it, but I certainly can’t take credit.
I was first exposed to the idea by Gary Vaynerchuk in 2008 while researching content marketing early in my insurance career.
Here is the original video. This was the first time I ever heard someone give permission not to feel insecure about my weaknesses…
Because the value of “Double into your strengths” isn’t about improving your strengths.
Maybe you already picked up on that.
Doubling into your strengths is a mental model.
Mental models are cognitive frameworks or representations individuals use to understand, interpret, and make sense of the world around them.
Mental models are shaped by personal experiences, cultural influences, beliefs, and values, and they help people process information, make decisions, and solve problems.
Mental models are often formed unconsciously and can be based on incomplete or flawed information.
They act as mental shortcuts that simplify complex situations, allowing individuals to make sense of their environment and respond appropriately and quickly.
However, because mental models are simplifications, they can sometimes lead to biases or errors in judgment.
When it comes to mental models, self-awareness is paramount.
The wrong mental model (such as your weaknesses being obstacles to success) can foster negativity and nurture the limiting beliefs that hold you back from peak performance.
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In order to create a strength-focused mental model, we must first ask ourselves, “What am I not?!”
I am not a patient person.
A lack of perceived patience has been used as a negative in at least a dozen performance reviews throughout my career.
AI’d sit there listening as whoever my boss was at the time would preach away on how patience was a virtue, and someday when I matured into my career, I’d learn to practice patience.
You have patience.
I’ll get shit done.
You don’t hire me, involve me in projects, or get involved in a relationship with me if patience is at the top of your desired traits.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think patience is important. It certainly is…
I have a different philosophical take on patience than most people.
Everything I do is short-term urgent, and long-term patient.
This mental model allows me to harness my strengths while providing the time-in-market necessary for real results to take shape.
I am supremely confident in this approach.
…and it all stems from the lesson I learned from Gary Vaynerchuk in 2008.
I don’t waste time incrementally improving my weaknesses. At that moment, listening to Gary Vee, I decided my career…my life… would be decided by my strengths, NOT my weaknesses.
Did any of my previous bosses ever take the time to understand why I don’t slow down? Why I don’t value patience? Why I’m always pushing?
“Because patience is a virtue.”
“Because good things come to those who wait.”
“Because Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
“Because haste makes waste.”
“Because slow and steady win the race.”
They all chose a lazy recommendation, “You need patience.”
With my ADHD brain, patience isn’t even an option. No, instead, I’ll focus on my strengths. I’ll be the best I can possibly be at those things and then hire or partner with people whose strengths fill the gaps between my own.
For you, the opposite might be true, or more likely, a myriad of personality traits, innate skills, and passions present as strengths in personal and professional life.
Don’t shy away from your strengths; double into them.
God gave you strengths and weaknesses for a reason.
I refuse to believe His purpose in doing so was for you to stay mediocre at your strengths in order to become mediocre at your weaknesses.
Let your weaknesses be weaknesses.
Be known for your strengths.
Now get to work.
This is the way.