Last week I carried on a bit about a motivational management book I had listened too which suggested that the best way to manage people was to develop their strengths rather than to have them work on their weaknesses. As I listened to this book, I was stunned that something so obvious would take so long for us to figure out. Upon reflection it occured to me that this emphasis on shoring up weaknesses is probably an anomaly. In fact, the values of conformity and measuring up are both industrial age values. And now that we are moving beyond the industrial age, we are also coming to our senses about a few things as well. I don't mean to bash the industrial age. A lot of good came out of it. But, as with any good thing it is easy to get carried away. And in many ways we did.
But, back to the topic at hand. I listened to their second book entitled Now, Discover Your Strenths. This second book reported on a vast amount of research conducted by Gallup to identify categories of strengths. They came up with 34 areas which people seem to have some sort of 'natural' ability. That means that you do things in your area of strength with little effort. You might be good at connecting with people, or working a crowd, or seeing implications, or figuring out how things work. There are things that you are better at than other things. There are things that your are better at than other people. There are things that other people are better at than you. And it only makes sense that you do the things that you are good at and spend your time getting better at them.
Unfortunately, in today's world, we tend to down play our strengths. If we are good at something we tend to dismiss it as unimportant. It is easy for us so we don't value it. And other people resent our strengths. In a world that values conformity, standing out implies that others fall short some how. This all reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut short story where anyone with a talent was penalized somehow in order to insure that nobody made anyone else feel inadequate. This is funny in a short story, but sad in real life.
If this idea has any appeal to you, I would encourage you to visit the Strengths Finder website. They list the 34 categories and, if you are so motivated they, provide a test that will tell you your strengths. Next time I will discuss my strengths and their implications.