Sunday, March 3, 2019

How to find your distinctive strength ?

I am currently reading the book- 'Disrupt Yourself' by Whitney Johnson. The book is based on the application of Clay Christensen's world renowned theory of disruptive innovation for managing
individual careers.

One specific aspect of disruption it talks about is playing to one's distinctive strengths. Marcus Buckingham's books and body of knowledge covers the notion of strength based thinking in-depth. Too be honest, earlier in my career, i didn't quite believe in the concept of playing to one's strengths, or not to overly focus on eliminating weaknesses. The main reason i argued with myself was that human beings are among the most malleable species around and they have infinite capacity to mold themselves. I see multiple examples of this playing around me. Recently, i was reading a book on Ripley's Believe it or not and some stories of the participants really amazed me. It was not just the act that was described. The common thread in many stories was the fact that people practiced deliberately and became better at their act.

With time, experience and knowledge, i have softened my stance on not just playing to one's strength but i still believe that we as humans are extremely capable of dealing with our weakness only if we are willing to set our focus to changing anything within us. In a larger scheme of things, it's more about where we want to set our priorities.

It was this context that really made me read through the chapter in the book 'Disrupt Yourself' with interest. The part that i liked was the analogies used by author to drive home the point e.g. sharing the story below:

"Think about the cuddly little koala, sleeping up to twenty hours a day. One might have serious
doubts about its ability to survive. However, the koala can
do something that almost no other animal can: it use eucalyptus leaves, which have minimal nutritional and caloric value, as a food source.'

Nature has it's powerful ways of ensuring that the each of the species were born with unique strengths and these strengths make them survive and differentiate themselves from the rest of the us.

Then's there a mention about Charles Darwin's experiment on finches:

When Darwin gathered numerous specimens of these birds. He analyzed these and presented to a ornithologist. At first these seem like similar specimens but careful analysis revealed that each one
was an evolved species of finches. In their evolution, most distinctive part was their unique beak structure that allowed it to exploit different types of food.

In summary, our strengths evolve with time and with practice. This is quite common in the world of sports. Quite often the sporting talent is identified in the early ages but the ones that make their mark eventually are the ones that hone their talent with hardwork, sweat and putting in hours of practice. One's strength isn't really a constant and with a dose of effort and with time, it can evolve into something significant.

So how can one find their distinctive strength ? The book offers some advise that resonated with me. It shares the advise in form of questions and that allows you to do some soul searching to find the answers:

1. What skills have helped you survive ?
2. What makes you feel strong ?
3. What exasperates you about others ?
4. What made you different as a child ?
5. What compliments do you shrug off ?
6. What are your hard won skills ?

I found these questions eye opening as they allow you to look at the word 'strength' not in unidimensional sense but genuinely opens up different avenues to articulate your strengths to yourself.

How would you answer these questions for yourself ? or you have better ways to find your strengths. Please share by commenting.

Images source:,500_.jpg

#KoalaStory #FinchesStory #Darwin #Strengths #PowerofQuestions

No comments: