Focus on strengths, not weaknesses Part 1: PEOPLE

I posted on “Now Discover Your Strengths” (NDYS) a couple of years ago. This book forced me to totally re-think people development. Recently, I’m thinking it also applies to brands.

Let’s start in this first of 2 posts by looking at the people side.

In life we focus on fixing weaknesses. For example, ‘John, you’re rubbish at public speaking. We’re sending you on a
course called “Conquering your fear of presenting”. Then you’ll talk at the Annual Sales Conference in front of 1000 people.’

The fatal flaws here are: i) the weakness is often the flip-side of a strength. John may be very good with people 1-on-1 because he’s a great listener, but not a ‘showman’, ii) people don’t really change fundamentally once they become adults.

NDYS offers a mind-opening and life-enhancing alternative: focus on celebrating and amplifying peoples’ unique strengths. And when it comes to the weaknesses, use one of several solutions:

1. AVOID: Find a role where the weakness is not an issue – find a new role where John can work one-on-one where he’s good

2. BUDDY UP: Team the person up with someone who’s strong in their area of weakness – buddy John up with an ace presenter

3. NEUTRALISE: Work on getting the weakness up to an OK, minimum level to “neutralise” it – if you do send John on presentation training, make it clear he only needs to be OK, not perfect!

Picture 1 This is what happened to rugby god Brian O’Driscoll when he worked with psychologist Enda McNulty, who he hired to help get re-motivated after a run of bad form. McNulty encouraged O’Driscoll to list his best games, and watch these on DVD. As O’Driscoll recalls. “Why
always practise your weaknesses? Practise the things you are
strong at. What makes you stand apart are the things you are good at, so get better at them. Be unbelievably good at them.”

The last bit is key. Be unbelievably good at what you do well.

In the next post I will look at how this thinking applies to brands.