Achieve Success by Playing To Your Strengths

by Jenny Hansen


This post is dedicated to all you new grads, and to the parents who’ve supported your journey.

* * * * * *

As a corporate software trainer, I’ve got to be ON each day I’m in the classroom. It doesn’t matter whether I was up all night with a sick kid, or if my best friend and I had a fight. Nobody cares about those things when they come in for a day of training. They’re focused on what they need to learn and it’s my job to deliver.

There are personality types who would hate my job. They’d get tired by all that “on” business. I see it a little differently.

Every day that I walk into the classroom, I know:

  • All my problems get checked at the door.
  • I’m going to provide a service.
  • I’m going to have a fun day.
  • I’ll get to see people learn, and light up over what they learn.

Do you see a trend with perks I listed above? It’s me, me, I, I. Training is a vacation from my own busy head where I get to focus on other people. It works for me because it plays on some of my innate strengths.

I went to a Training conference earlier this year that was geared toward the accounting industry. The keynote presentation was called, “Building a Strengths-Based Organization” and it shined the light on a disturbing trend:

Society, starting with our schools and continuing through our workplace management teams, places a mighty amount of focus on improving our weaknesses.

I started thinking crazy thoughts…

What might happen if these organizations put this same amount of energy in developing peoples’ strengths? What kind of mountains could WE move if we applied our efforts toward being stellar at the things we’re good at, rather than focusing all our energy on our “faults?”

I’m not talking about turning into a bunch of narcissists who can do no wrong. I’m talking about making it a primary goal to discover our innate strengths and spend more time playing to them. This conference really spun my head around.

Let me give you an example:

We did an exercise in the conference pre-session where we listed the things we were good at – we had 60 seconds to scribble them down off the top of our head. We were directed to find the skills we’d always been good at.

Hint: Most people don’t “see” these innate skills as anything nifty or unusual. In other words, they don’t see their own special talents. (Sound familiar?)

The abilities people came up with were amazing – there was so much talent in that room and the majority of it wasn’t being used the workplace where we spend at least 50% of our waking hours. How sad is that? These abilities were being relegated to the hobby side of the fence.

My innate strengths, in no particular order, were: writing, teaching, motivating others, doing hair and learning software.

I felt extremely lucky when I looked at my list. Life pushed me early into a job I am uniquely suited for. Except for the “doing hair” part, my innate strengths describe the perfect software trainer. No wonder training feels so easy…it draws on at least three areas of my innate strengths, so it doesn’t feel like work.

It doesn’t mean you’re a slacker just because you like to do the things that come naturally to you.

In fact, I’m going to take this a step further and issue you a challenge:
Pay attention to the things that are easy for you and try to do them more often.

The easiest way to bring your “A” Game to life is to play to your strengths. You’re still going to have to do things you dislike in every job, but the more you develop your strengths, the more often people will call upon you to use them. I promise.

What are your innate strengths? I’m not talking about the things you’ve learned to be good at. What were you always good at? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2014 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

photo credit: SalFalko via photopin cc

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