Matter & Substance
  August 19, 2014

Focus on Your Strengths

Character Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood in the movie Magnum Force, so famously said, "A man's got to know his limitations."

After reading the book StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath, supported by The Gallup Organization, I'd like to modify this quote to read, "A man's got to know his strengths."

The concept of the book is that everyone should play to their strengths instead of focusing on improving their weaknesses. For example, if a child brings home a report card with an "A+" in math and a "C" in art - some parents may sign their child up for more art classes to improve the weakness; however,StrengthsFinder would say it's more important to better refine the math skills which are clearly the student's strength.

I agree, when people operate in an environment which utilizes strengths, the opportunity to maximize potential increases exponentially.

If we hire someone who is great at auditing, yet average at tax preparation, we're going to make sure they focus on getting even better at auditing, and keep the tax work assigned to others with strengths in that area.

If you haven't taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, it's enlightening. As the book points out, the assessment does not necessarily measure your strengths, it measures your talent, "...we have discovered that knowledge and skills - along with regular practice - are most helpful when they serve as amplifiers for your natural talents."

  • My particular strength areas, with descriptive phrases based on the book's definitions, are as follows:
  • Competition: Rooted in comparison - if you can compare, you can compete
  • Futuristic: Fascinated with the future, visions of the future energize you and pull you forward.
  • Learner: Love of learning
  • Maximizer: Transforming something strong into superb
  • Relator: Derive pleasure and strength from being around close friends

I'm always interested in hearing other people's strengths. If you give StrengthsFinder a try, share your results with others in your organization and start to manage people with their strengths/talents in mind. Leverage strengths - don't accentuate weaknesses. Good luck!


"Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power." - William James