Archive for July, 2011

3 Critical Techniques For Men To Gain More Success & Confidence In Their Lives!

Friday, July 15th, 2011

3) Knowing Your Strengths!

Knowing your strengths and your potential strengths is a critical factor and the first step in determining how much success and happiness you will have in your life!

The reason for this is simple and straightforward you first have to know your strengths and your potential strengths before you can do anything else with them! More on that later, specifically points 2 and 1!

Discovering and confirming your strengths and potential strengths is the logical and critical first step, you see, even if you believe you know your strengths, the truth is no one has a perfect knowledge of their abilities, so being accurate is very crucial so the next steps you take are not wasteful.  Even in the event that the results you end up with are the same as you believed they would be, there is always the benefit of confirmation and reassurance that you are indeed heading in the right direction.

So how do you know what you are good at and what you have the potential to be good at? For some of us this may seem easy, but for many of us it is not! Especially when we try to separate the strength from the action we are using it in. Ideally you want to end up with a specific definable strength that can be plugged into the different options we have in front of us in life so it is as useful as possible. One way to reach this goal is to think about, dwell on and reflect on the past and create a list of things we think we are good at. Another way is to ask those around us and see what the people who know us best think. Both of these option are alright, but the first relies on our own assessment which is often clouded by our emotions and altered by what we want to see in ourselves and what we want to be.  As for asking others, this can be a more objective source of information, however, certain people only see certain sides of us in certain situations, not the whole picture, not the details. On top of that, these people are certainly not experts when it comes to strength finding. Fortunately there are experts. There name is the Gallup Organization. You have probably heard of Gallup before, they do the polls you see every so often on the news and in magazines. They do polls because this is an integral part of their research, research aimed at finding answers and solutions to our challenges and goals. In this case, Gallup has come up with a book and test that uncovers and confirms your strengths! It’s called Strengthsfinder 2.0.

First things first, the great thing about strengthsfinder 2.0 is that Gallup took the time to get it right. In fact, there is 98.9% chance that the first time you take the test the results are accurate. This goes down to a 89.9% accuracy rate if you take the test again because as human being we tend to answer the questions differently. The questions in Strengthsfinder 2.0 are aimed at getting our first and most natural response to the question because this tends to be the most correct answer. This, as opposed to when we have too much time to think about it, over analyse or answer it how we want to see ourselves rather than what we really are.

Next there is the uniqueness factor of your strengths; the probability of having the same top 5 strengths as someone else is 1 in 278,000! By no means do people often have the same set of strengths, far from it. But that`s not all. The probability of having the same strengths as someone else and in the same order is 1 in 33.5 million! You see, the order of your strengths is also important. The order refers to the maximum potential ability of each of your strengths, not the present ability of those strengths. While there current depends on whether or not you’ve been using them and how much, the results are telling you that if you did put time into all of your strengths, your number one ranked strength would will give you the highest return on your investment.

Now at this point it might be helpful to make a clarification as to what exactly I mean by what you are best at and what your strengths are. There are many different strengths, depending on what your level of criteria is, there are hundreds, however in this article I will primarily be focusing on those strengths as identified and described by the Gallup Organization and their book and test Strengthsfinder 2.0. While they also realized there are hundreds of strengths they cut them down and conglomerated them into a total of 34 for the sake of practicality and usability. They have also made a a distinction between the general and the specific as well as between the skill itself and the application of the skill. For example, you may have the strength of command, but command is only one part of leadership (communication would be another part). Furthermore, you can lead in many different ways, one such application may be a basketball team. However, you need to know something about basketball itself to coach a basketball team.  Being a good basketball coach will require more than just good leadership, leadership would be one skill required among others and command would be only one strength needed for good leadership.

 

2) Using Your Strengths!

Do you have the chance to do what you do best every day?

Chances are you do not!

The Gallup Organizations research shows that only 20% of the population are doing  what they do best everyday! That is a real problem, especially if you are in the 80% group! A sure tell way to figure out if you are in the 80% is whether or not you are excited to go to work and enjoy what you do. If you feel bored, uninterested, stressed, angry or unhappy at work, chances are you are not using your strengths! After 30 years of research, in over 60 different countries, with more than 100 top companies, using over 2 million interviews across many diverse cultures including all range of age and sex Gallup found some very pertinent and interesting information.

Those who do get to do what they are best at, those that use their strengths, are 6 times more likely to be happy and emotionally engaged in their work! Additionally, Gallup found those that work in a company for a manager that focuses on his or hers employees strengths, cuts the chances of his or hers employees being actively disengaged down to about 1 percent! Since the average person spends the majority of their waking day at work, this is very imperitive. On top of this, those that are emotionally engaged and happy in their work are 3 times more likely to have an excellent quality of life overall! In other words being happy at work effect the rest of the day and time you are not at work! Add to this that we make about 3000 to 4000 decisions every day, either using or strengths or are weaknesses, and one can see just how essential it is to be operating from and in ones strengths. Everything we do every day is either from a strength or a weakness of ours, we are constantly making choices and carrying out actions.

If you know your strengths you are able to intentionally and deliberately use them. If you are using your strengths this gives you the best chance of succeeding at what you are doing.  Finally, it is not surprising that people who spend time doing what they do well tend to feel better about themselves and their abilities while gaining happiness from their resulting accomplishments and success.

People who know, use and improve their strengths have increased personal engagement, excitement going to work, more positive interactions with others, improved confidence, greater daily achievement, refined sense of direction and more creativity and freedom. Yet too many people go from the cradle to the cubicle, then to the casket without ever uncovering their greatest abilities. This is sad to think about and to realize.

So once again, do you have the chance to do what you do best everyday?

If you said no, usually it’s because you do not have the option to, or more accurately, that you believe you do not have the option to. Now you may be thinking it would be great if  this was an option for you, but because of your circumstances it is not, hence you must continue to use your weaknesses. At this time we need look at the bigger picture; it’s called CHOICE and you always have it! The truth is you never have to do anything and you are never stuck anywhere, unless you choose to be. The following example should make this abundantly clear. Unfortunately, some people in this world are “forced” to deny their spiritual beliefs at gun point, yet even then, many choose not to and are killed for it. Hopefully that reminder puts our own situations into proper perspective; if they had a choice, we most certainly do as well. Lastly, remember, even doing nothing about your situation is a choice to do nothing.  A key powerful question to ask yourself is this: “Why am I adapting to what’s around me? Why am I not matching what I am doing to who I am, more specifically, to my strengths?”. We often give our lives to our jobs. It’s time to take them back!

 

3) Improving Your Strengths!

This is the part that may seem counter intuitive: taking the time to improve your strengths! This is more than just using your strengths, it is intentionally improving what you are best at and correspondingly, not trying to improve what you are bad at.

It’s ok if you disagree with this statement, in fact I would be surprised if you didn’t and that’s exactly why you need to make sure you read the remainder of the article! Get ready to have your view on strengths radically changed!

The idea of focusing your effort and energy on your strengths is most likely a far departure from what you are used to doing, from how you are used to thinking and what others say you should do. This is understandable, from an early age it is often our weaknesses that seem to garner to most attention, that stand out and get noticed, in other words our areas of short coming. In school it is always the lowest grades and the classes you got them in that get the most attention and correspondingly effort and work. Having a society and culture that constantly impresses this thinking upon you only serves to make this feel normal and seem correct. However, there is a fundamental flaw in this thinking, the same error most learning programs we take part in are guilty of; trying to help us become something we are not!

To help illustrate this I am going to use an example, the real life story of Rudy Ruettiger and the movie that portrays his story called Rudy.

If you have heard this story or have seen this movie, you know its about a 23 year old undersized grounds keeper with the dream of making and playing on the Notre Dame college football team. Rudy, who is about 5’6 and 165 lbs clearly does not have the physical tools to play college football, but he does possess a lot of heart. Rudy does everything he needs to in order to gain acceptance into Notre Dame and after being rejected 3 times he is finally admitted. After making the teams practice squad, he begins showing his dedication by always showing up first and leaving practice last, constantly encouraging, pushing and cheering on his team mates, cleaning up after them by washing jerseys and equipment all while taking a daily beating in practice despite never once being allowed on the sidelines with his team mates in an actual game. After 2 straight years of this, in the final game of his final season, he is at last allowed to suit up. With a huge lead late in the game, his team mates are able to convince the coach to let him in for the final play. In his one and only chance, Rudy sacks the opposing teams quarter back instantly becoming a hero and is carried off the field to many cheers.

This is an inspirational story, but there is a significant problem here! Rudy spent all of this hard work, years of effort and thousands of hours of practice for one play and no future in professional football!

You’ve heard it said many times before; “You can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough”. We all want to believe we can be anything we want to be and we have often been told this by either our parents, teachers or friends at some point in our lives. Chances are we’ve told this to someone else at some time or another as well. Who wouldn’t want to believe it? Who wouldn’t want to believe they can be a professional sports player, an astronaut, a celebrity lawyer, a noble prize winning scientist or a political leader? This belief seems to give us confidence and lets us dream with freedom.  The problem is it simply isn’t true, in fact, it’s damaging and detrimental to follow this principal because  it can cause us to waste years of our lives and countless amounts of energy and effort pursuing the wrong goals, goals we cannot reach.  The truth is we should be confident about our strengths, we should dream about what we actually have the ability to do and we should only weigh the options that can lead to success.

Just like with the real life story of Rudy Ruettiger it is clear that there are simply some tasks that require mental and physical abilities that we lack and can never gain. Rudy certainly tried as hard as he could to reach his goal, but no matter how hard he tried it was not enough. While physically speaking, we clearly cannot add any height or length to our bodies, we can add things like strength, quickness and endurance… to a degree, however, there is a limit to this and the same is true for our mental abilities as well. We are all are working within a range that has a maximum upper boundary, its just that some of us have higher upper  limits in some areas than others. While Rudy’s short comings were physical in nature the same hold true for all abilities including mental abilities. The truth is there are maximum upper boundaries for every ability and for each one of us those ceilings look different. This comes down to the age old nature vs nurture argument. Were your strengths and weaknesses determined at your birth through your genetics or were they determined based on how you grew up and were shaped during those impactful early years? Most experts agree that is a combination of both, though it is unclear exactly to what degree. Regardless, your areas of strength and weaknesses can first start to be seen in around the age of 10 and for all intents and purposes are set by late teens and early twenties.

Studies have shown that in almost all cases a weakness remains a weakness, rarely can it be turned into an ability that is considered above average and at best it never reaches the level of a strength let a lone a strength that has been improved. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a weakness is like a dormant strength, in that it just needs to be activated in the right way! The overall return on your investment of energy and time put into your weaknesses is very, very low: it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to improve areas of weakness. You may be thinking, “wait,  the diminishing returns principal does not apply to a weakness, it only applies to those things that people already have in abundance”. The more accurate statement is that the principal of diminishing returns applies to those things that are near their maximum level, hence this principal applies very well to a weakness because a weakness or already near its maximum potential. The bang for the buck is simply not there, it is not a wise investment or a sound “business” decision by any practical or rational criteria. Time is valuable, not a commodity to be wasted and since you only have so much time in a given day, it does not make sense to spend that time on what will not give you a good return on your investment.

Next let’s look at some of the motivations behind the desire to rid ourselves of our weaknesses. One such motivation is not being comfortable with having weaknesses. If this is the case you should actually feel quite the opposite because the truth is, having weaknesses entails that you have strengths since it is simply a relative comparison. In other words, if you believe you have strengths then by consequence you must have weaknesses. On the other hand if you do not believe you have any weaknesses then you are living in denial for the same reason. Unless the strength of all of your abilities are in a perfect balance this means some of your abilities are stronger than others, hence why some are strengths and in comparison others are weaknesses. Weakness is a relative term, an ability is weak compared to another ability that is strong. In that sense it is important to realize that this does not mean that we are necessarily horrible at what we are weak at, we are just not as good at it compared to our strengths. If it helps, try re-framing the word “weakness” into “average ability” or “non strength” and see if this helps you accept it. The bottom line is that in the end you only have so much time in life so it simply makes sense to spend that time on what will yield you the greatest rewards.

Moving on let’s look at what is often the most common argument presented in favour of improving your weaknesses; the belief that a weakness is like a weak link in a chain and hence needs to be improved and managed. First of all, managing a weakness is actually a great idea! More on that later, however for now it is important to make a distinction between managing a weakness and improving it. Managing a weakness does not entail spending lots of time trying to make it better! Furthermore, since improving a weaknesses doesn’t work effectively anyways, it is a moot point to try and improve one in the first place regardless if you feel it is a weak link. So how do you prevent a weakness from getting in the way of your strengths and what you love doing?

You cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of what you already are!

This assertion stands in stark contrast to the belief that you can be anything you want to be if you just try hard enough, but more importantly, it is the only way to go from good to great. Not only is it my hope that you will replace that old misguided maxim with this new understanding but moreover that you’ll realize this great news can impact your life in an incredible way! So much so, that following through with it is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself!

When looking at the assertion that you cannot be anything you want to be but you can be a lot more of what you already are, there may understandably be a part of you that does not want to believe this, perhaps because it feels negative or limiting. However, this is a perspective that needs to be challenged. It is important to note that being more of what you already are still lets you dream and dream large, it just focuses your dreaming within the areas of your skills and strengths! It also still leaves you with plenty of options, but instead of having to weigh and sort through bad ones you’ll be choosing between only the best ones! This is great unless of course you like wasting your time dwelling on unrealizable dreams and sorting through worthless inferior possibilities. It’s fun to fantasize and ignorance can be bliss for a time, but when reality sinks in the disappointment is real and strong. In that sense, you should see this new maxim as the uplifting and empowering perspective full of possibility and potential that it is and we haven’t even got to the best part! So far we have only looked at one half of the picture, avoiding what is negative, however, lets go one step further and get to perhaps the most important implication of being a lot more of what you already are. The sooner you focus on what you are good at, the sooner you will go from good to great! In fact, it is the only way you can go from good to great!

The whole point of being a lot more of what you already are is the potential you have and the greatness you can achieve. If you look into the lives of great achievers such as Michael Jordan or Anthony Robbins you will find out very quickly that they don’t try to do everything. Michael Jordan never had a great 3 point shot, but other players such as John Paxon did. Anthony Robbins was loosing a lot of money in the middle of his career even as he seemed successful selling places out, why? Because he isn’t good at managing the business side of his career. What they did do was focus on what they were good at and turn it into greatness. Michael Jordan is perhaps the most competitive man on the planet, he maximized that let it fuel him to produce amazing results on the basketball court. Anthony Robbins was a good communicator and he has leveraged that and put it to great use on stage to help other.

We’ve already looked briefly at managing your weaknesses and now we are going to look at that a little closer. Managing your weaknesses does not mean ignoring them, pretending they don’t exist or focusing on them to the extent of trying to make progress in those areas. It does mean taking the weakness into account and planning around it. Depending on the type, variety and complexity of the task you are engaged in, this will take different forms. Look for alternative ways of accomplishing a goal. Any time you can get the same task done using your strengths instead of your weaknesses take the opportunity to do that. Be creative and find a way to take that part out of your activity. If this is not possible, find someone else who does have that strength to carry out the task instead. Team up with others! Be deliberate, a little time spent on figuring out how to do this now will save immense time later. That is effective management of your situation, that is taking control, that is maximizing both your abilities and the abilities of those around you! It is both a wise and intelligent course of action!

However, there is still one obstacle; what you are strong at will always stay merely as potential if you don’t put the effort into actually improve it to turn it into greatness. In other words this does not happen all on its own. A good way to view this is looking at the multiplier effect. The multiplier effect is what happens when you combine effort and ability. Effort multiplies the effect of the strength. Essentially it is a simple formula that looks like this: Effort x Strength = Results.

Now you may be thinking that sounds wonderful, but what about the principal of diminishing returns: the more you try to improve something you are already good at, the more effort and time that is required to get the same return, which means less return on your investment. That is, if working on your weaknesses does not yield a high return, how can working on your strengths be any different? The answer is that a strength is not a strength compared to its overall future maximum potential. It’s much like a gold mine waiting to be discovered and once it is, it then needs  to be mined, the gold taken out and turned into something beautiful and even more valuable! Our strengths are laden with potential since most of us have not even tried to intentionally improve our strengths. Most of us have gotten to the level we have just from using our strengths in a far from purposeful way, content with mediocrity, knowing we could to worse. Thinking you can get more out of a weakness means you first have to assume that it has the potential of a strength. Once you realize that a weakness is already closer to its upper limit of potential than a strength is the sooner you will understand why with a strength the principal of diminishing returns has less of an effect. This is the same as saying the initial returns on a strength start much, much higher than a weakness.

To better illustrate this let us look at two real life individuals, both of which played football. The first example is Rudy Ruettiger, if we plugged Rudy into the Effort x Strength equation he would look like a 5 x 2. On a scale of 1 to 5 his effort was a 5 but his ability was more like a 2 because it was actually a weakness. Using this formula he peaked out at a level of 10. There would have been other players on his team that also would have been at his same level but for different reasons, in fact opposite reasons. Those players would have been a 2×5, no effort despite lots of skill. Then there are the great football players. Lets look at another Notre Dame football player, however this one was 6 4 and 190lbs, perhaps you’ve heard of him before, he was a quarterback on that college team in the late 1970s and early 1980s and his name is Joe Montana. Joe Montana is a near perfect example of someone focusing there time and energy on improving their strengths and becoming a lot more of what they already are. Although he was not rated as one of the best college quarterbacks coming into the NFL he eventually became arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history and certainly one of the best all time. Joe Montana would have looked something like a 5×5 in terms of effort and strength, hence the results he obtained.

The question you need to ask yourself is would you rather become more like Rudy Ruettiger or Joe Montana when it comes to the results you get from your effort? Do you want to set yourself up for failure or put yourself in the best position possible to achieve your goals and dreams? The question isn’t can you but will you? You have the power to, all you need to do is use the God given right everyone has, free will, and decide to go from good to great today and gain the success, happiness and confidence you want!

 

-If you want to know how this applies to you as a unique individual in your unique situation!

-If you want to take action to overcome the barriers and obstacles in your life!

-If you want to stay on track once you’re on track!

Start by booking a free 45 minute life coaching sample session using the form in the top right corner or email me at Shane@LifeOPC.com or call 250-889-0988 today!