You need to find your strengths if you want to successfully design a business around who you are.
If you don’t find those strengths and work with them instead of fighting against them, your work life will be a big struggle.
And who the heck wants that? Life is hard enough, right?
In modern life, positive psychology is all the rage and I don’t mind it at all in the right circumstances however, the quote that reads along the lines of...
Really isn’t helping people at all, because it makes people think hard work is all they need.
Unfortunately, no amount of effort makes you better at something you are not born to do or be despite any amount of passion for it.
Well, I learned something interesting from something on my bookshelf recently, and I found it a complete revelation.
What do you think about this as an alternative instead?
I thought it was genius!
Now, doesn’t that immediately make you feel better?
At last, not some advice to try harder at what you don’t like doing much and will always fail to master no matter how long or how hard you try.
I learned this from the lovely Marianne Cantwell, she has written a great book call Be A Free Range Human and she talks about how to get off the treadmill and become the person you really want to be with a career to match.
She believes we go through life masking our strengths and trying to improve our weaknesses, to no avail, so why not just change the environment.
I love that way of looking at the world.
If you struggle to find your strengths, perhaps if you look at your perceived weakness instead, and flip your world view, you might find this approach more helpful.
Marianne explains it better.
She uses herself as an example when she was originally in corporate job land
Doesn't that make so much sense?
Your own personal list of strengths and weaknesses can be viewed from a very different perspective and in a much more positive light.
I feel that is so much easier on the soul than conventional wisdom.
Stop beating yourself up and find the right environment instead.
Someone else who agrees...
Or as he calls it, Finding Your Element, another great read.
If you are interested in another proponent of this method I would suggest you consider the work of Sir Ken Robinson, he believes the schools system in many countries would work so much better for children if only they could follow the Find Your Strengths model instead of being pigeon holed into academic or not academic.
This process of course, has an enormous knock on effect into adult life and the reason many of us stay stuck our whole life because we can't seem to access our talents easily or see how they could really fit into the world of our work.
If you have children, he is a must see in my opinion at least to explore his point of view as an option.
I am glad you asked.
Let me explain this because a lot people mistake their skills for their strengths and keep plugging away at becoming better at them.
Wouldn’t you prefer your life to be a bit more effortless?
So here is the explanation
Like empathy or you like learning or you have discipline.
It is something you be, do and are on a daily basis throughout your life and they are not something you can learn or take a class in.
They are generally the same from being a young person to being an older person and have nothing to do with being an introvert or an extrovert.
It is really important to understand this distinction because you will then understand, when I say build a business around your strengths, I am not saying build it around your skills alone
You can be great at your skills but I you don’t like using them or don’t incorporate skills along with your strengths you will find your business will be an uphill task and you will grow to hate it.
In order to make things more clear let me give you, as defined by the Strengths Finder - Find Your Strengths Test, a grid to show all 34 of them.
If you are really serious and want to find your strengths and learn more about the 34 headings I suggest the following two options to learn more.
Gallup Strengths Test to find your strengths in the way we have been discussing
Top Tip: I often buy books secondhand on amazon but on this occasion new is best because you need the key to the test in the back of the book.
A second hand copy of the book has probably got a used code and therefore no good to you.
Also be advised, there are several different book covers I have noticed but the book was updated in 2007 and I haven't seen one any later than that.
It should be the 2.0 version.
Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, he has been talking about this subject with organisations in the workplace for years.
He elaborates on the difference between skills and strengths and writes more about how to use each strength on a practical level.
He has also written a more recent book called Stand Out 2.0 Assessing Your Strengths, all about finding your edge and winning at work.
Work of course, at all times in the context of what we are talking about is your business not a corporate job.
Everything applies just the same.
Are you itching to find your strengths now?
I know I was and I went into the test thinking I was x, y and z and came out totally differently which is why I think the test is a really important tool so you can understand yourself better.
And if you understand yourself better you will make better choices about your business idea and how you will do business ultimately.
Let me share my own results with you for context.
If I give you my top 5 strengths it might help you understand a bit more about how they fit into my working life.
Bearing in mind I am in the world of small business ideas and helping people design one around who they are, I think my strengths are perfect for what I do.
I am not writing the whole descriptions here, just very briefly picking out phrases that illustrate the point about how I am working with my strengths and not against them.
Your own test will have more in depth information about your top 5 strengths.
Perfect for me to understand what people are feeling when they are struggling with jobs they hate as I am the world’s number one 9 to 5 hater
I need to learn to keep up with the world of work and business, and so being a learner is a fantastic strength for me. Doing research helps me help others and I LOVE doing it.
Such an important strength for me to have in this line of work, tailor made in fact
I can’t help others if I don’t collect knowledge as I go or share information or answer questions
I think this describes itself beautifully and describes me to a T
Now what are your greatest strengths?
Do you know yet, have you worked them out?
If not, are you ready to go and find your strengths and put them into full use in the world?
They are specific to you; they allow you to put your spin on your business, no two people are the same even if they have the same business ideas.
What do you make of this?
This made me really sit and think for quite a while after I heard it, I thought it quite profound. I hope you don't find it too odd!
I think they have a point, we are lucky and we shouldn’t waste our talents.
Go find your strengths and be a brilliant person in this world because there are a group of people in this world who need to hear from you and only you by way of your specific business done in your specific way.
Remember, you made the cut for a reason...and they are waiting to learn from you.
And finally a quote from Benjamin Franklin who truly understood the importance of the need to find your strengths...