When I meet with potential clients, I begin by asking them several questions. One of those questions is “What are you good at doing?” Most people have some idea about what they do well. They will say things like, “I’m good at sales,” or “I enjoy marketing.” I usually ask a follow-up question, “What percentage of your time are you spending in your areas of strength?”
To my surprise, people share that they spend the majority of their time doing things they do not do well. They work in weaknesses, rather than their strengths. What about you? Are you working in strengths? Answer the following 8 questions to find out.
Question #1 – What are your strengths?
What are you good at doing? Your strengths are areas of natural gifting and abilities. Give thought to what comes easily for you and where you are most productive.
If you are unsure, ask someone close to you—perhaps your spouse or a good friend. You can take an assessment. I recommend the YouMap assessment. It evaluates you in 4 specific areas: strengths, values, skills, and passions. It provides an objective evaluation to help you become more self-aware.
Once you become aware of your strengths, give thought to how you use your strengths. Give thought to how often you are using your strengths in your current position or role.
As leaders, your weekly work hours can be long. Estimate how much you work in a “normal work week.” Let’s say, it’s 50 hours.
Estimating your weekly work hours will provide a basis to evaluate how you are using those hours. This becomes important because you want most (preferably 80%) of your hours to be used in your areas of strengths.
Do you spend the majority of your time working in your areas of strength? If you’re good at sales, estimate how many hours you spend selling.
I recently asked an leader to share his strengths, his weekly work hours, and how many hours he spends in various areas of his company. He shared that his strengths were sales and business development. He shared that he was weak organizationally and operationally. He spends 85% of his time in operations each week and only 15% of his time in sales.
His answers were not a surprise to me, because his response was very common. Most people never take the time to calculate these percentages. It is very wise to consider what percentage of time you spend in your areas of strength.
Sometimes when I ask this question, people have an “aha moment.” By that, I mean they have never really thought about choosing where they spend their time. They just do what they have to do to make things work. Instead, I strongly urge you to choose where you put your time. Position yourself in your strengths.
I asked a leader to identify his strengths and how often he spends time in these areas. I asked him if he spent the majority of his time using his strengths, how might that impact his company. He answered by saying, “If I spent most of my time using my strengths, I could double my company in 18 months.”
"You cannot build performance on weaknesses. You can only build on strengths."
— Peter Drucker
If you are primarily working in your weaknesses, you are limiting your company from growing. You are working at things you don’t really like, and you are not very good at doing. Even though you have learned how to work in areas of weakness, you will never really become great at doing those things, because they are your weaknesses.
Instead, choose to work in your strengths. You will do well and enjoy what you do, because they are your strengths. You will also grow your company.
At times, everyone must work in areas of weakness. We just want to limit how often and how much we do so.
Working in your weaknesses will wear you out. It takes more energy to do something you are not naturally good at doing. Eventually, you will become fatigued and even get discouraged.
Working in your strengths has the opposite effect. It energizes you. You will do well and enjoy working in those areas.
While working in your strengths doesn’t guarantee you will be more impactful, it will likely happen. You will be more creative.
Working in your strengths will be more efficient. If you aren’t good at something, it takes more time, slows down your progress, and requires more time. It costs you time and money.
Working in your strengths will help you grow your company. You will be more efficient, work quicker, and increase your impact.
This is the most significant question in this post. There is a reason you continue to work in areas of weakness. For some, it may be trust issues. Perhaps a person has taken advantage of you in the past, and you have difficulty trusting people and letting go of responsibilities.
For others, you have ego issues. You question whether anyone can do things as well as you do them. Over the years, you have added “hat after hat.” You currently find yourself doing almost everything. However, if you are honest with yourself, the quality of what you do suffers because you are doing too much.
For some, you just haven’t thought about it. You started your business. You did what needed to be done. As the company grew, you added roles. You adapted and learned how to do many things. Now, years later, you find yourself continuing to do all those tasks and filling the many roles. You should stop, evaluate, and make adjustments before you wear yourself out and limit the growth of your company.
I cannot adequately express how freeing working in your strengths will be for you. You will regain your “fire” again. You will look forward to working. You will have more energy. Working in your strengths will revolutionize your life and your company. Why not give it a try?
Dave Pennington PhD