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Chris LoCurto

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April 10, 2012

Why You Must Discover Your Strengths

April 10, 2012 | By | 49 Comments">49 Comments

Best-selling author Tom Rath joins me on the EntreLeadership Podcast today to discuss the importance of knowing what your strengths are. Tom is a leading business thinker and his book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, helps people uncover their talents.

If you can’t click the graphic, click here for the podcast.

I can tell you that once you know your strengths, you’ll become frustrated when you spend any time not operating in them. You’ll also take a much harder look at what the future can be now that you have a better understanding of how and where to focus YOU. Here are just a few of the highlights from our conversation:

  • As a society, we have a tendency to focus on our weaknesses. In fact, 77% of U.S. parents believe their child’s lowest score on their report card is the one that needs the most attention. Why is that? Because we are taught from an early age that we can’t fail. And yet, most kids don’t end up working in the area they are weakest. So shouldn’t we focus more on strengths?
  • Gallup surveyed more than 10 million people, and only a third strongly agreed with the statement, “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” So why do the other two-thirds continue working where they don’t do their best every day?
  • The difference between Joe Montana and Rudy Ruettiger is strengths. Joe was always talented as a quarterback and honed those skills year after year. Rudy, while possibly having the biggest heart on the planet, was not very talented as a football player. He spent five years to get one sack in one game. What if he would have focused those five years on something else?
  • When companies hire salespeople who are strong in the area of sales, they create two- to three- times more revenue. It starts in the hiring process, with surveys that allow you to see an individual’s areas of strength.

These are just a few things we discussed on the podcast. Tom goes further in depth on all of these topics. This is one you definitely won’t want to miss.

Question: Do you feel you are working in your greatest strengths? 

 

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  • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret

    My copy of the book finally arrived and I just took the assessment this morning. The results surprised me a bit: Futuristic, Learner, Significance, Intellection, and Ideation were my top five. Now I just need to read the rest of the book to figure out what this ought to mean to me….

  • Deerlive

    I am so glad that other people are talking about finding strengths more than focusing our energy and precious resources on OUR WEAKNESSES?  This is what i talk about in my latest post, too! 
     
    This a simple tip that makes a huge difference in my clients’ lives.
    Great JOB!

  • LouiseThaxton

    Just recently someone asked me in an interview if there was ONE thing I would recommend to someone who wanted to succeed in my field.  My answer was that I discovered what I was best suited for and loved to do in the business, and then hired other people to the rest – which was 95% of the work!  I discovered my strengths – and I decided to focus on those strengths – not my weaknesses.  As a result my business quadrupled in one year!  

  • http://www.talksoftonline.com/ steve

    Compelling concept and I agree for the most part.  Though focusing on your strengths seems somewhat contradictory to a past blog entry / podcast topic about Zig Ziglar’s wheel of life (http://chrislocurto.com/2011/05/11/zig-ziglars-wheel-of-life/).  In that  you mention “note what areas you’re strong in, but really take a hard look at the areas where you suffer. Here is where you need to start paying attention.”
     
    I feel that one should not neglect key areas where one is weak.  Attention must be given to make sure you are well rounded and that you can hold your own in certain important areas of life, whether intellectual, business, or personal.  For example if you get an “F” in Math and a “B” in English, I’d argue its more important to improve the math grade than the English one.

    • epicenterone

      I have this question too, Steve. Commented on it below – Very intelligent people come out on both sides of this issue (Focus on Strengths, and minimize weaknesses vs Deliberate practice on improving weak areas.) 
       
      I wonder if there’s a third solution that sorta includes/meshes them both?

      • http://www.talksoftonline.com/ steve

         @epicenterone An approach could be to assess the energy /effort needed to bring oneself up to the desired level of competence, and also to evaluate the importance of the area in question.  An ROI analysis of sorts.
         
        In the case of “Rudy” that was given as an example, the effort was huge, but to him the relative importance was just as big so the ROI equation was satisfied.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      Steve, that focus was for the areas in your life where you need to have activity or your life suffers. In other words, if I don’t spend a fair amount of time being social, I will end up old with no friends. So in that case, focusing on your weaknesses is about the areas in the wheel that you need to be stronger in. Not your personal strengths. Does that make sense? 

  • http://www.epreferreds.com/ preferred stocks

    I love how you differentiate between a ‘strength zone’ and a ‘ comfort zone’. I’ve never thought of it that way before, but it makes so much sense!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

     
    I believe that playing our strengths is one of the key ingredients for success. When we focus on our strengths, we can enhance our productivity and quality of work. But, as I get into some assignments, the tendency is to put my hands into everything! This does not produce the optimum result. So it is best to focus on my top strengths and delegate the rest to capable people in my team.

    I think one of the reasons why leaders tend to work hard on their weak areas is because they confuse ‘strength zone’ with ‘comfort zone’. One thinks that he was lazy because he didn’t work on his weak zone. And the strengths zone was kind of easy for anyone (because, after all, that is his strengths zone!) So it is easy to misunderstand our strength zone as our comfort zone. I pray that the Lord gives me the wisdom to understand the difference. I feel that we should not be in a ‘lazy (comfort) zone’. But we should be operating in our ‘strengths zone’ for maximum effectiveness.

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

      @uma_maheswaran I love how you differentiate between a ‘strength zone’ and a ‘ comfort zone’. I’ve never thought of it that way before, but it makes so much sense!

      • epicenterone

         @Laura Johnson  @uma_maheswaran I like that idea too – how easy it is to get sucked into being in a comfort zone vs a strength zone. 
         
        I can’t remember where I read this – I think Michael Hyatt quoted it somewhere- but he said something like: “The solution to your problem is outside your comfort zone.”  
         
         

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

    Agreed Chris! Great insghtful podcast.

  • epicenterone

    And I was wondering something – have you ever heard of teachers applying strength finder/DISC tests for their students in order to discover the best way to work with each of them?
     
    I work with adult English learners, and as I was listening to the podcast, I started to wonder…hmmm, I wonder what would happen if we did that at the start of each course? I bet it would increase effectiveness?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That would be awesome. I can totally see that.

  • epicenterone

    As always, this podcast was….amazing! I enjoyed it soo much! (Will be played again, and again, and again I’m sure.) 
     
    So I have been wondering how Geoff Colvin’s work fits into this conversation – I have been reading his book “Talent is Overrated” with interest. Here’s a link to a pretty good summary of what the book deals with if you’ve not had contact with his stuff:
    http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/21/magazines/fortune/talent_colvin.fortune/index.htm
     
    Having typed that…I do agree so much with how important it is to find your strength and gravitate to it. John Maxwell also teaches this – I heard a podcast/teaching that he gave about Priority Management, and one of the sections in his talk was what successful people do vs what not so successful people do. 
     
    Maxwell says something like: Successful people find their strengths and spend most of their time working in and out of those strengths.  He goes on to explain that he only has like 4 or so strong points, and that’s all he sticks to. 
     
    I guess that’s why I’ve heard so much: work in your strengths and hire to cover your weaknesses. But first you have to know what those are.
     
    Once again, brilliant podcast! Thank you!
     
     

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s exactly it. The problem is, we don’t understand that so we try and be all things to all people. I believe this is why we fail more than not.

  • tbric1

    I have a similar thing going as cabinart.  Part of the day is working in my strengths, the other part is plowing thru my weak areas.  Soon, I hope to have an assistant to handle some of the tasks that I don’t need to do!  I am taking the hiring process slowly to find the right person.
    As always, the podcast was very informative and helpful.  Keep ’em coming!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s great to hear!! So many people would force it, or get a relative or a friend, just to have someone in the seat.

    • cabinart

       @tbric1 Oh yeah, we need to get us some People. I’m waiting for an art major to just call me out of the blue and ask to do a free internship. (sort of like hoping to win the lottery without buying any tickets – neither approach has yielded results)

      • tbric1

         @cabinart Chris has people so everyone must need people also!

        • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

           @tbric1  @cabinart You two are talking about wanting someone to do the stuff I want to do! I always wondered how well it would work for me to do it over the internet for people, could have clients in other states, etc. But unfortunately, no matter how intrigued I am, I don’t have enough experience yet to make it worth anyone’s while…
          Good luck finding your perfect fit :)

          • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

            I love how much conversation happens among this community!

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    “So why do the other two-thirds continue working where they don’t do their best every day?”
    In my case it was because I didn’t think I was worth anything…I didn’t have any talents, I wasn’t smart, I didn’t have anything to contribute. I thought I was stupid. Therefore, I would choose jobs that met my needs paycheck and benefit-wise. 
    Only recently have I begun to realize there are things I can be good at, and I do have a purpose! 
    Can’t wait to listen in :)

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Oh my gosh girl!! Just knowing you through here I know you’re talented!!! You need to surround yourself with better people. :-)

  • SeekOutWisdom

    This episode of the Entreleadership podcast is a great reminder of how to leverage someone’s strengths and natural talents to benefit them and everyone.  I know I’d like to increase how often I work within my strengths and get to capitalize on what I can do best.  And, I try to help my employees and my wife and kids get into the zone where their natural gifts are best used.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s awesome! I bet you have a loyal following.

  • RicardoButler

    The Podcast was awesome! In our ministry we’ve going with Rick Warren’s SHAPE profile for determining strengths. It stands for …
     
    Spiritual Gifts
    Heart (Passion/Desires)
    Abilities (Skills Natural Talents and Strengths)
    Personality (Temperamental types: Expressive, Driver, Amiable, & Analytical)
    Experiences (Family, Educational, Vocational/Occupational, Spiritual/Worship, Ministry, and Painful)
     
    This is what we’ve been using to get people in the right place that come to us because they love what we do.
     
    We believing in putting people in the place where God most SHAPE’d them to be!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Absolutely Ricardo. Otherwise you spend way too much time trying to fix it when it’s wrong.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=36736095&trk=tab_pro TroyD

    I can’t wait to listen this afternoon, you always have so much information packed into your podcasts.  Similar to Lilykreitinger I was taught a few years ago to draw three circles.  One has the things you enjoy doing, one has the things that God gave you talents with, and one is the things people would pay you to do.  Where those circles overlap is your career path.  I would have to find his name but the example given was the guy who made a career catching home run baseballs.  What a job that would be!  If I could only get paid to run a daycare with only MY kids as clients….
     
    For me, my faith in God has grown so much over the last couple years turning me into a giver that I was never before.  Also, I read so much more for enjoyment.  With those I feel like my passions are changing and I struggle with doublemindedness.  I feel like I am in between passions, not really sure what I am good at or what I should be doing.  I feel like the guy on TV spinning all the plates, try to give each of them the attention they require.  I will have to add “StrengthFinder 2.0” before or after “48 days to the Work you Love”.  So many books, so little time!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I would do it before. I think it will help out the 48 Days process.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

    WOW! Loved the podcast! I won’t comment on specifics so everyone else enjoys listening to it.  It is so true that we’re taught to focus on failure since we’re in pre-Kindergarten!!  It’s also ridiculous that 2/3 of people DO NOT have the opportunity to work at what they do best.  I understand we all need to pay the bills, but it’s a lot more joyful when you’re enjoying what you do and THEN you get to pay your bills on top of it.  The way I was brought up about finding passion in what you do: 
     
    – Am I able to do it?  I know I would be a lousy accountant.
    – Am I willing to do it?  Can I give it all I have day in and day out because it lines up with my God-given gifts and talents?
    – Would I do it even if I didn’t get paid for it?  That’s the j-o-b clause
     
    Thanks again for great content and an AWESOME podcast!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You are just one of those people who makes this so fun to do!!

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @lilykreitinger I like your “Would I do it even if I didn’t get paid for it?” point :)

  • cabinart

    When I am drawing or teaching drawing, I am working in my strength. Problem is, there is no one else to do my weak areas for me! Ick, sales. Ick, bookkeeping. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I think Joel loves to do all that.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      I’m with you on this! But just imagine if you weren’t working in your strength at all and still had to do these other tasks. Major bummer!

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Very excited to hear this podcast!  
     
    I’m currently working a field that pays very well, that I perform in very well…
     
    …but it’s not where I want to be at age 41.  I’m very anxious to apply the advice from today’s podcast, so that I can increase my odds of not being in a profession that isn’t in my passion when I’m 50.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com/ Loren Pinilis

    Oh wow, I will have to give this a listen.
    You know, Chris, I’d love to hear about strengths from the perspective of leading in the home – how strengths work in a marriage relationship. Not appropriate for the EntreLeadership podcast obviously since you guys are so business-based. But I’d love it if someone out there would do something like that. Do you know of any resources like that?

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That actually would be awesome. I don’t know if Tom has anything on that.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      Loren, you peaked my interest so I spent a few minutes on Google and found this – www.ministryinsights.com/couples.  Looks like some good information. I’m sure there’s more out there worth checking out.

      • http://www.lifeofasteward.com/ Loren Pinilis

         @JoelFortner Wow! I’ll have to check that out. Thanks, Joel!

  • MariannaGibson

    I believe that I’m working in my strengths. I enjoyed taking the StrengthsFinder assessment and focusing on how I am wired. I’m looking at my Top 5 right now and each of those characteristics fully play into my day-to-day responsibilities and also the long-term picture of the world of content marketing and publishing. I am truly blessed and thankful to be doing something I enjoy and challenges me each day.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Yay!!! That’s good to hear. Not a lot of people can say that.

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

    Look forward to listening to this one!  I’ve read StrengthsFinder 2.0 and taken the test.  I need to break out that information and review it more often. 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I would love to know what your results were.

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

    I am definitely not working in an area of strength, which does well to explain why my job completely drains me everyday huh? It’s amazing how not working in a job comprising your strengths and passions affects every single aspect of your life!

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Brother, it TOTALLY does!! Find that strength and go after it.

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @Skropp Totally understand–it does drain you!
      I was working for a place that paid well, was stable, and had great benefits. It drained me more than any other job I’ve had. My co-workers couldn’t understand when I left for a job that had longer hours, more responsibility, and was financially unstable. BUT I was looking forward to going to work every Monday morning!