Play To Your Strengths

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, December 01, 2010 at 07:23 AM with 7 comments

photo of a bucket on a toilet tank “Play to your strengths” is a phrase I use a lot. I feel most of the time I say it to myself, in observation of something I or others do. All in all, it is great advice and something I may tattoo on my forehead backwards as a reminder for whenever I decide to take on something I really shouldn’t, as it isn’t in my “strengths zone” (I made up that term, feel free to use it!).

You may have just read that and thought, :”what a wimp, he’ll never go anywhere as he is not a risk taker.” No, that’s not what I said. I am all for taking on something new, stretching boundaries, expanding knowledge and awareness and recognizing and taking risks. There’s a big difference between taking on a new role or project, parachuting out of an airplane and, say, plumbing.

When evaluating a new move, there is always that “butterflies in the belly” feeling, and it maybe as much euphoria as anxiety. In breaking down the components of a move, maybe it may not as much of a stretch as you had thought. For example, when I moved to Chicago several years ago after I broke it down, it wasn’t as big of a deal for me as I had originally thought, not to mention what others thought as they did not know my thought process.

In playing to your strengths, you are not being weak. Rather, you are using and exploiting what you can do and analyzing anything new to see if you even want to do it yourself at all. Learning new, complicated software may be a challenge you want to do with little downside, other than the time you are spending on it that could be spent on something else. Expanding a business to a new city or country may be more logistical and cultural than you could have anticipated. Deciding not to do these as planned but instead hiring someone with the skill or partnering with someone in the new location could achieve the same goal. If the end result achieved, you may have just played to your strength to facilitate and manage the relationships.

Earlier I mentioned plumbing. This is something where I should have played to my strengths and just hired a plumber out of the gate to fix my toilet. I did assess the issue, went to the mega hardware store and was told all I needed was a US$5.00 flapper to fix it. What I didn’t assess was the potential downsides, namely I would do damage I couldn’t fix like breaking the overfill pipe in the toilet tank trying to replace the flapper, and as a result would have to use my daughter’s beach pail to flush the toilet until the plumber came to fix everything, which in the end was much less than the value of my time and the aggravation on my family. Thus the accompanying photo.

Strengths have been on my mind a lot recently as I just read the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and took the accompanying strengths assessment survey. I will write about this book separately. In the meantime, my strengths will always come into play, even as I am expanding into unchartered or simply greater waters.

What say you – do you play to your strengths or just go with your gut and take on a task? Or something else? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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