Play to Your Strengths

Let me start by sharing a story with you.

Once upon a time there lived a shepherd boy named David who had great faith in God.  He was not as mighty or as strong as his brothers who were soldiers in the army.  His father was aware of  that and gave him the duty of looking after the sheep.   There were days when David’s brothers made fun of him but he slowly learned to ignore their taunting because he believed God was with him.

As a shepherd, he used a sling to drive away animals that tried to attack his sheep.  Through constant practice, he became an expert at it.  He was even able to save himself and his herd from the paws of a lion (and later from a bear too!).

At that time, David’s country was under attack from their enemies.  There was a giant in the enemy camp who created fear among the soldiers; and that included David’s brothers as well.  God gave David an opportunity to fight the giant to the amazement of his brothers and friends.  Everybody assumed David would be crushed by the giant but using the unique talent that God had given him, he was able to knock the giant down.

Yes, this is the story of David and Goliath from the Bible – I know you are quite familiar with it.  God gave David a special strength that he used to save his people and his country.

What I want to share with you through this story is this: God has created each of us uniquely and has given us distinct gifts and talents.  The reason He has given them is to fulfill the purpose for which we have been created.  Yes, believe me, we are created for a great purpose!

Our strength might seem very insignificant but remember, God uses the weak.

Our uniqueness is the trump card for living a life with passion and purpose for the glory of God.

Psalm 139:13-14 echoes this thought.  It says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”

Take a look at all the great people in History – Einstein, Newton, Beethoven, Mother Theresa, Picasso, Michael Jordan and many more.  All of them became world renowned because they played to their individual strengths.  You will have a better edge and gain more when you develop your gifts and leverage your strengths than when you try to improve your weaknesses.

It is not enough to identify what you are good at (well,that is the starting point), but you need to find what you are great at.  That changes the entire game!

A strength is a talent that you possess with required skills, knowledge and experience to match.

Strength = Talent + Skills + Knowledge +Experience

A talent become a strength when you have acquired the knowledge and skill-set to do it perfectly through a whole lot of practice.  This is true of any field.

“Whenever you interview people who are truly successful at their chosen profession – from teaching to telemarketing, acting to accounting – you discover that the secret to their success lies in their ability to discover their strengths and to organize their life so that these strengths can be applied.” (Taken from the book Now, Discover Your Strengths)

If you are familiar with football, you might know that each player has a different role.  While training, the coach identifies each person’s strength and places them accordingly to give the team maximum advantage.

This principle can be applied to your personal life and family as well.  Discover your strengths and put them to use for maximum advantage.

Focusing on your brilliance will enable you to live a richer and more profitable life than you ever dreamed of.  Working on something you love while utilizing your strengths makes it doubly productive.

Here is a small exercise for you which is actually a continuation of the exercise we completed to identify your passion and purpose.

5 Tips to Discover Your Strengths

It’s time for some more introspection! (I have created a free worksheet for this exercise that you can download and complete at a convenient time.)

1.  What are you exceptionally good at that others often notice?

When you do something very well, people often notice and comment about it.  Keep an eye open for what others say about you – it will give you insight into what others think your strengths are. These could possibly be your strong points.

2. Did you learn something at a more rapid pace than considered normal?

Take a look back and think about all the things you learnt over the years.  It could be academic or other skills like cooking, knitting, singing, etc.  Did you learn at a faster pace than what others normally would?  That subject could be your strength as your brain is hand-wired for it.

3.  What specific things do others come to you for advice?

On which topics do others come to you for advice or inspiration?  Those areas will definitely be your core strengths.  People won’t seek you out unless they feel you have the knowledge or skill to solve their problem. 

4. What kind of activities gives you satisfaction?

List out activities that give you more satisfaction than others.  Work satisfaction tells a lot about your strengths.  I am not really good at graphics and I never feel satisfied with my designs.  There is a direct correlation between your strength and level of satisfaction.

5. Which activity or work gives you a free flow of energy?

 Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defines energy flow as “a kind of intense focus and crisp sense of clarity where you forget yourself, lose track of time, and feel like you’re part of something larger”.  What activity makes you feel that way?  It is a strong indicator of where your strengths lie.

More Resources to find out your strengths

You can download the free worksheet with the above questions here: Find your Strengths Introspection Worksheet

Here is a list of resources that will help you narrow down your strengths: Tools to Help you Identify your Strengths

We tend to believe that the skills we possess are only average.  That is not so – you are good at something that a million others struggle with.  Don’t ignore your unique abilities.  Discovering your strengths and redirecting them to a money making niche will lead you to long term success!