Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book 9 - "Soar With Your Strengths"

Hi again, it's been a while since I've posted. If you're wondering, "Did he fall off the wagon?" "Has he given up already on his weekly book challenge?!" Not a chance my friends. Regardless of my self-imposed busy life I'm dedicated to finishing what I start. And in truth, that is what this is about.

Sure, I want to learn, expand my horizons, deepen my knowledge - but somewhere down the line in my life I realized that being truthful to me was the best therapy for my soul, and the best remedy for my ailments that continue to grow as I age - namely regret. I'd spent my whole life making promises to others and myself that I had all the intentions of keeping but for some reason, life (and I) kept getting in the way. Funny thing is, the cure to that is very simple and Shakespeare put it well, "Above all things, to thine own self be true".

Somewhere down the line that clicked and it's changing my life as we speak.

The most recent book I read spoke to this idea, the concept of being true to yourself, in particular your inherent strengths - and how focusing on those strengths rather than your weaknesses is the true path to a better career and life.

In Soar With Your Strengths, the author did years of research and found that successful people from Gandhi to Jordan to Trump, to every Olympic athlete you've ever admired, for that matter, have all had one secret to success so obvious that people often miss it - sure, they were passionate and positive and persistent; but moreso they were true to their talent, and focused more than anything on developing their skills and natural talents toward a single and lofty end.

This contradicts the notion that we should focus on developing our weakness - something our society often does.
For example, think of the child that gets A's in art, literature and writing, but D's in math and science. Most parents and teachers would say the student needs to work harder at bringing those poor grades up.
The author says no. Focusing on a clear weakness in the scientific and left-brain topics seems logical since we need those skills in life, to some extent, but in tipping the scales toward bringing up those weak subjects the student takes focus away from the subjects their naturally talented in - topics that probably bring them much more joy and satisfaction since they do well in them. Funny how this all makes sense and yet we push back with the common belief that everyone needs a "balanced" education.

Now don't get me wrong, the author doesn't say to bail entirely on your weakness- his idea is to "manage" your weaknesses, but build on your strengths.
Build on what your good at and passionate about, but manage the math class weakness so you at least pass the class, but reinforce the artistic side (in our student example).

But how do you "manage" your weaknesses? A good way to do it is to use your strengths to manage them and make them more fulfilling. For example, if your an artistic person bad at math, use art to learn math. Think of math visually, use patterns, create math visual maps, use colors when doing assignments, watch math tutorials online, or on video - anything to engage your visual and creative side. Leveraging your strengths to manage your weaknesses keeps your focus on your strengths in a way. I thought this was such a great idea...I can't believe I'd never thought of it!

This hit home for me because I have a daughter who is very right-brain talented. Even at 5yrs old she was painting, drawing, and composing stories far above her classmates - she has a natural talent that I would say could become masterful if channeled properly. Luckily she is still good at math and science, I think because she's very visual about them. My other daughter has highly developed social skills, also something that could lead to a very rewarding and happy life if developed in a positive way.

So how did this book help me? If you think of it in terms of how the world is shifting into a knowledge-based and global economy, this idea of focusing on your talents becomes increasingly important. Developing your strengths gives you a competitive edge like no other. Think of all the hundreds of people in a field of work you have a passion for - and think of what a star you'd be by being one of the few in it that have true talent and passion for it, unlike others who are just there for a paycheck!

Ok, I'm ranting now...I'd better slow it down. :-)

But the short of it (after this long blog post, that is that you should get on Amazon, right now, and get a copy of this book. They have copies for $0.01 (yes, a penny!) If taken to heart it could seriously change your life for the better.

Or at the least, get out a piece of paper and try this - write down everything you think you're good at; this includes:
  • Tasks that others thought tedious but you found easy
  • Topics in school you just "got" while others struggled with
  • Skills others have complimented you on, whether it be drawing, writing letters, creating that spreadsheet, cleaning the house, working with kids, speaking in public, dancing, teaching, running a team, etc...whatever others suggested you were good at
  • Hobbies you've kept up throughout the years
  • and the eternal question, if money were no object, what would you do with your time?
Once you've identified these skills or talents, think about their common thread, whether it be artistic, analytic, or just helping others somehow. This common thread is your talent, your higher purpose and what you should focus on in life - it's what you should be doing and developing. Developing that strength to its highest level would be the best thing you can do.

O.k., going too far again. But I hope you got something from my rants and this book, I know I did.

Very soon I will post again on two other books I've recently read. Both very different but interesting in their own respects.

Stay tuned my friends....



Del C ... ★ said...

Hii there, wow.. i created a blog kind of like yours ( Then i found yours on the internet. It's kind of good to know that there are people who have the same ideas and thoughts as you.

I've became a follower, and hope to be hearing more from you...

Good luck with your blog

jmeadows said...

Hey! Jessica M here. Hope all is well! Just letting you know that I've transferred my blog to a new domain Check it out and let me know what you think (and if you could update your blogroll too :) Thanks!

Greg Masenthin said...

I like your angle of attack! Clocks ticking, get busy living!

Anonymous said...

sWell I am a brazilian girl and I created a blog with my friends..and now I really wanna read this book ..It hink will help a lot.
and good luck