When you think about improving yourself and becoming a better person, what do you think of? Most people would say that to become a better person, you have to work on your weaknesses so that eventually you have none. But is this really the right way to go?
Perfection is unattainable. It is a dream, one that is out of our reach entirely. So instead of only working on your weaknesses, why not focus on your strengths and build upon those? There is not a single person with no weaknesses, but there are people with exceptional strengths.
A team of psychologists, among which are Andreas Steimer and André Mata, conducted a study, asking people to identify what they consider to be their biggest strength and their biggest weakness. These people were then asked questions about how changeable they think those traits are. The outcome was that people thought they would be able to work on their weaknesses much more than on their strengths. And of course, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on your weaknesses. It’s important to do so as well but you shouldn’t focus on it entirely. Take New Year’s resolutions for example. Why do you think so many of them fail? Apart from lack of discipline, it’s because most people choose to get rid of certain weaknesses like studying more, procrastinating less, eating less, drinking less. Instead of doing this exclusively, why not say “hey I know I’m good at public speaking. This year I promise to look for opportunities where I get to practice that skill and hone it.” But this doesn’t only apply to New Year’s resolutions. You should try to improve yourself throughout the year!
As a leader, focusing on your strengths is a fundamental value and a secret to success. That’s what makes a team great! We are all unique and have a certain skill set with specific strengths. As a leader, by isolating these strengths and inspiring your team to build upon them, you will soon begin having much better results. As Joyce C. Lock said “Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves.”
So now what are you going to do after reading this article? Let me give you a suggestion. Take a piece of paper and write down all of your strengths and all of your weaknesses. Narrow down the strengths to your top three and write down ways that you can challenge yourself to improve these skills. Now, I know I am talking a lot about focusing on your strengths, but you shouldn’t leave your weaknesses unattended. But look at your list. Maybe by focusing on some of your strengths, you can actually get rid of your weaknesses. Let’s take the speaking example again. You know you are very good at making speeches, you enunciate well and you believe you can capture an audience but you are just too shy to try it out often. Go out there and do it over and over again. Eventually not only will your public speaking skills improve, but you will also get rid of your fear of it.
Never give up on yourself, constantly try to improve and I guarantee that you will open up opportunities for yourself that you never even dreamt of.
Start focussing on your strengths now, through an AIESEC Experience. Find your opportunity at opportunities.aiesec.org.