Leverage your strengths, over harping on weaknesses

We often end up undermining ourselves. But success lies in working on our strengths, rather than eliminating our weakness

By: Surabhi Parvatikar

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses,” said Marilyn vos Savant, the renowned American author who was listed as having the highest recorded IQ in the Guinness Book of Records.

According to research from the best-selling authors of Change Anything, a self-help book, 97% of employees report they have some career-limiting habit that keeps them from achieving their potential at work. According to the research, the top five habits identified were:  

  1. Unreliability
  2. “It’s not my job”
  3. Procrastination
  4. Resistance to change
  5. Negative attitude
A Harvard Business Review (HBR) research also extrapolates that while we’re clear that our weaknesses cost us both personally and professionally, few of us make any progress in turning them into strengths. 

The success of an individual or a working professional however lies in the fact that how they can leverage their strengths, more than harping on their weaker points.

HBR suggests the following steps to ensure that we step into and successfully traverse the journey of turning our weakness into strengths. Take a look to see what can help you transform your own journey.
Identify Crucial Moments
  • Ineffective responses to situations, be it checking your email instead of returning that call, or complaining about your manager instead of speaking to her, are not usually due to simple cognitive or behavioural gaps in our abilities.
  • Typically, these are a deeply ingrained and practices response to feelings of anxiety, inadequacy or fear.
  • The key to overcoming this typical response is by becoming aware of the ‘crucial moments’ that provoke these ineffective responses – pay attention to the times, places, social circumstances, moods, physiological states, or risk perceptions that incite you to act in ways that lead to bad results.
 Design Deliberate Practice
  • Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson defines deliberate practice as brief episodes of intense focus where we practice a skill under relatively real conditions.
  • If these intense practice episodes are followed by immediate feedback, learning accelerates further.
  • In effect, this means that once you’ve identified your crucial moment, identify moderately challenging situations where you can practice the targeted skill.
  • Practicing this in a smaller, safe environment, while monitoring the effectiveness of the newer approach along with our stress levels over a period of time, allows us to hone this practice over and over until it becomes second nature.
  • An important element of deliberate practice is to focus on a discrete skill – for example, if you feel anxious speaking up in a group, start by choosing a conversation skill that you’d like to master within a group of two or three people.
Develop emotional competence
  • Confronting and tackling a weakness are always accompanied by emotions.
  • Forcing oneself to engage in a behaviour that is uncomfortable provokes emotions that will merely reinforce that the behaviour needs to be sidestepped.
  • Instead, seek out strategies that can make an unpleasant act more pleasant, or manageable.
  • Focusing on what you really want and value is a good place to start to calm those emotions. For example, remember why you should go to that gym – if becoming healthier is what you want, and you value that your family relies on you and the sense of accomplishment that follows – then focus on those feelings and go to the gym holding that in your mind
Identifying your weakness requires introspection and reflection. Stepping into your strength requires courage, persistence and a support group. It probably sounds very challenging but its easier than you would believe once you identify how you want to impact your world with your strengths.

Watch this video to understand how you can change your career by stepping into your strengths: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9ftEN9-d2Yv.

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