What’s Stopping You from Playing to Your Strengths?

16 Feb
My hands are tide

(Photo credit: WolfS♡ul)

Last week in our leadership Saturday post, we talked about why you should play to your strengths and all the wonderful benefits that can bring.

This week, we’re going to address one of the key reasons people hold back from playing to their strengths.  We must address the common objections:

  • Things still have to get done, whether I’m “strong” in them or not
  • If I spend time on my strengths, I won’t be “well-rounded”
  • If I spend time on my strengths, people might think I’m selfish

While these need to be addressed, they are not the root cause of our reluctance to play to our strengths.  The root cause is…


I’m convinced that many in the modern world are driven by fear.  We’re afraid things won’t get done.  We’re afraid of how others will perceive us if we spend time developing an area in which we are already strong.  We’re afraid of letting others down.

Where is this coming from?

I don’t know about the rest of the world (and I would love to hear other perspectives from the rest of the world!), but in modern America I think it stems from our heritage.  Self-reliance, determination, and the ability to do anything were all great characteristics for the pioneers who settled the Wild West.

In those days, you dealt with your weaknesses or you died.  Fair enough!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the west isn’t so wild anymore.  We’re not as isolated as our ancestors.

Uh, check that: we don’t have to be as isolated as our ancestors were.  We have all kinds of people around us (don’t believe me?  Go hit Houston’s rush hour traffic!).  And all those people have numerous skills and abilities.

So What?

So… this means we have an unprecedented ability to change our thinking from “I” to “we.”  If we are to perform  with true excellence, we must enter the era of the team.

Today, we can link not only to people, but to people’s strengths, skills, and abilities through technology like LinkedIn or other technological wonders.  Even if you don’t live in a populated area, these links and contacts are still available!

With advances in collaborative work, we can tap into expertise and passion that were previously unavailable to us.  Just think of the possibilities:

  • Google docs to build common docs, spreadsheets, or presentations
  • Facebook forums to share ideas, articles, and carry on discussions
  • Video conferencing to “meet” across the world (even free… Google hangouts, for example)
  • Skype, FaceTime, etc… that lets you “pop” in and talk to a colleague or share screens (and potentially embarrass them because they haven’t combed their hair and are still in their bathrobe!).


There is one caveat to this ability to “connect.”  These technological means should never replace close, personal relationships.  There is something about real relationships that keeps us… well… real!

But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  We don’t have to work with only people we can sit next to… nor do we have to socialize with people across a screen.  There is a healthy balance.

Now What?

How do we enter the era of the team and play fully to our strengths?  We’ll be talking about a strategy to move ahead over the next several Saturdays.  I hope you’ll join me as we look at these 7 steps in playing to strengths and entering the era of the team:

  1. Addressing the Concerns of Playing to Strengths
  2. Defining Your Vision
  3. Defining Your Weaknesses
  4. Doing Your Homework
  5. Recruiting Your Weaknesses
  6. Living Fully Into Your Strengths
  7. Creative Solutions When Resources are Tight

Can’t wait to see you play to your strengths!

What other concerns do you have about developing your strengths?  What do you think is a healthy balance between on-line collaboration and “real” relationships?  What other questions do you have that you’d like to see covered on this topic?

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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Leadership


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