You don’t “succeed” because you have no weaknesses; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them.
Prelude: I didn’t know what I was going to post on Pursuing Balance this week. Then the above, from Tim Ferris, showed up in my email inbox.
It’s a blurb from his forthcoming book, Tools of Titans(which I’ve pre-ordered) and you may want to as well.
Without further ado then.
I made a change in my mindset this year that has had a significant effect on my life.
It wasn’t a wholesale change in beliefs. It didn’t require an intensive meditative retreat or an extended period of self-deprivation to come to this change.
Rather — I heard something I’d heard before. This time, however, I was ready to listen to the message and it stuck.
The wisdom that stuck was: identify and address my weaknesses and double down on my strengths.
Several of my recent blog posts have focused on addressing weaknesses although they may not have come out and said that explicitly.
During my teens and twenties, I would have considered myself a night person, a night owl. I would play video games, watch TV, or just spend time on things that entertained me late into the evening.
When I made the decision to get healthy and start working out in my early 30s — I had to accept that being a night owl was no longer going to work. This shift did not come naturally or easily. It was hard.
So I started a morning routine. The routine has changed and adapted over the years, adjusting to the circumstances of my life. I arrived at a routine in the last year or so that has gotten me into a nice rhythm.
In a similar fashion I’ve identified other weaknesses and have put solutions (processes) in place to address them, so they don’t subtract from my progress.
I have the memory of a goldfish and so I utilize a to-do list app, my iPhone reminders, and a google calendar. It addresses that weakness and keeps me functioning.
Difficulty managing emails and sorting through the firehose of messages I get? I’ve implemented a two strategy system for managing my inbox.
Even when I first started working out — I had trouble being consistent and so took steps to make it a habit.
Meanwhile, as my weaknesses became better managed, I freed up considerable energy to push on the things I’m actually good at and enjoy. Then the real work begins.
Go all in on strengths:
Just as self-awareness has helped me get comfortable with and identify where I’m weak. It has also helped me identify where I’m at my best.
I love to give back to others. Either as a teacher, coach, or even motivator (I’ve been called a cheerleader). So I look for (and engage in) opportunities to implement this in my work and in my life. These might be active opportunities like coaching a youth soccer team or volunteering with the YMCA. It can also mean giving presentations at work conferences (both at the local and national level), or just helping folks out at the gym.
Important to this tactic is to always be looking for and seeking out opportunities to improve these strengths. Take advantage of training opportunities, free courses, certificates, books, and mentors.
Pursuing Balance is a manifestation of going in on my strengths.
Going all in on strengths does not mean taking the easy way out. Rather, it means finding the areas of life that bring us joy and align with our values. Then engaging in activities that take advantage of what we’ve identified.
“It’s about being what you are, and being as good as possible at it, without succumbing to all the things that draw you away from it.” Ryan Holiday
Surprisingly, It is hard to do this.
Sometimes it’s easier to deal with our weaknesses because we don’t have to face and overcome self-doubt. We can escape by saying, “well, I’m just not good at that.” When we focus on strengths we don’t have that excuse.
Even with our strengths we still have to put in the work. We have to develop our what we’re good at.
What are some ways to go all in on your strengths?
- Find podcasts that excite you and educate you in the areas you’d like to develop further.
- Take an online course related to the area you want to get stronger in. There are options like Udemy , Lynda, or Coursera. I’ve even used Khan Academy to learn something quick or to help my kids with their homework.
- Join an online community like Reddit. You’ll find groups that are knowledgeable about the areas you want to develop — and additional resources to dig deeper.
Just make sure you ACT on what you’re learning. This is not the time to indulge idle curiosity. (Although Reddit can certainly cater to that! So be careful where you venture).
We live at a time where there is no reason not to take advantage of these resources. If you find yourself in a situation that you’re not happy in. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Find simple, practical solutions to manage those weaknesses. Then (as Gary Vaynerchuk has said) Triple down on your strengths, put in the work, and see where it takes you.
Don’t waste time trying to build up areas of life you aren’t naturally good at. That will happen as a secondary consequence to focusing on strengths.
Find ways to minimize and address the weakness — then take full advantage of your talents. Hone them and deploy them. The world will reward you as a result.
Credit goes to Gary Vaynerchuk for inspiring me. It was his version of “Double down on your strengths” that finally clicked with me.