When I was in college and working on my undergraduate degree, each day was like swimming upstream. I had a lot of anxiety surrounding my studying and test taking. This anxiety came with good reason— I wasn’t very good at it. The information went in my brain and then quickly left. When I finally did take a test, I often felt that the questions on the test looked foreign compared to the information I had pored over for hours.
If a good portion of it was essay, I would be relieved and my anxiety would decrease considerably. I knew that I could somehow articulate to the professor my level of knowledge on the subject. I didn’t realize until later why this was so much easier for me. One of my strengths was communication (Imagine that). For many years, I viewed these weaknesses in my learning as deficits in my intellect. I actually bought into the myth that I simply wasn’t as smart as other people. I also bought into the idea that if only I tried hard enough, I could turn my weaknesses into strengths.
This idea that I could improve drastically in my area of weakness was ingrained in me from an early age. There is this notion that if you work hard enough and care enough, you too can become a superstar in any arena. Think about it, when you were going through school, did your parents pay more attention to your A’s, or was the focus on your one C? Did you believe that you weren’t trying hard enough and with the right amount of investment, your C could easily be an A?
Chances are, the course where you received a C for your efforts was not in an area where your natural talent lied. The truth is that you have the ability to grow the most in the areas of your strengths. When you take your talent and couple that with practiced skills and knowledge, you have the recipe for off the chart success. Therefore, it makes more sense to invest your energy into areas where you can show the most growth, rather than focusing hours and hours on your areas of weakness. On a side note, there are some weak areas where you still need to be somewhat proficient in life. For example, not being strong in math doesn’t mean you can totally ignore your personal finances. You still need basic skills to get by in the world.
Since I have a little bit more knowledge and wisdom than I did when I was 20, I no longer waste my time attempting to become proficient in certain areas that I know aren’t my strengths. I’m never going to be an excellent painter and you won’t find me scrapbooking anytime soon. In fact, if you ever saw my artwork, you would chuckle. My skills are low level and I’m fairly certain that my abilities wouldn’t progress too far beyond average. I’ve made peace with this, and I don’t spend much time thinking about it.
However, I have noticed that my writing gets better and better the more I write. I continue to perfect my skills in coaching women the more I work with clients. I’ve realized that presenting to groups gets easier and my skills only keep getting better the more I practice. These are all areas where my abilities soar since I have the natural talent. These are the areas that make sense for me to invest my time and energy.
So how about you? Do you know your strengths and utilize them on a daily basis? Do you spend too much time in your professional and personal life focusing on your weak areas instead of the areas where you can truly excel? If so, then you need to rethink your approach to life. All you have to gain is success and happiness.