At Peralta Design, everyone tends to wear many hats. We do what we can to help each other with projects, even if it isn’t what we’re best at. This week, we remind ourselves that branching out is important, but we shouldn’t neglect our strengths either. Everything should be examined and improved; It is the only way to ensure we are doing what we believe in.
‘Build Upon Your Strengths’ might sound obvious at first. Of course you build upon your strengths! You got good at something because you built upon a strength. However, more often than not, we are too focused on our weaknesses. We see areas we need to improve in and we attempt to correct these less-than-perfect parts of our lives. This is admirable, but with the myriad of flaws we each have it can be easy to get lost.
This concept, however, does not discredit the importance of addressing weaknesses and improving yourself. Some of the most outstanding growth in a person is done by turning weaknesses into strengths, liabilities into assets. Rather, this thought emphasizes the importance of not spreading yourself too thin, and to work on what you do right just as much as you work on what you do poorly.
In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown emphasizes the need for prioritizing. Certainly you should address and work on your weaknesses, but never at the cost of building your strengths! McKeown reminds us that, “Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” If you try to work on ten things at once, then you make one tenth the progress you could have if you just stuck to one. By prioritizing your strengths, you make significantly more progress than if you worried about every little weakness.
In the end, this does raise the question as to why our strengths are so important; What makes our strong suits so great that we should give it the lion’s share of our energy and faculties? Simply put, people find a lot of joy and motivation by doing what they excel at. Positive reinforcement is easy to come by when you’re in your wheelhouse. This reinforcement greatly increases the chances that someone will push even further, and step outside of their comfort zone. The confidence that comes from knowing what you’re doing, paradoxically, makes you more willing to attempt things you’ve never done before, and accept the mistakes you make as you do. This is the very essence of what growth is, and it cannot be understated.