Have you ever messed something up really bad and thought to yourself? “Wow, there’s something wrong with me…”
When we mess things up, it’s so easy to feel ashamed and to take that one problem and globalize it to our whole identity.
We can be quick to think things like…
- “I’ll never succeed.”
- “No one will ever want to work with me.”
- “No one will ever want to date me.”
- “I might as well throw in the towel right now.”
What happens is that we tend to look at how we’re successful or unsuccessful in one area and extend it to our whole life. We think, Wow, if I can’t do that, maybe I can’t really do much of anything. When the truth is you’re probably not good at some things, but there are a lot of things that you are good at – those are your strengths.
Our Strengths Bring Us Joy and Tap Into What We're Really Here To Do
I suggest that instead of focusing on what you’re not good at, start looking at the things you are good at and make them work for you. Because that’s what brings you joy and taps into what you’re really here to do.
Most people have got it all backward. Instead of capitalizing off of their strengths, they focus on what they are weak in.
For example, back when I was younger…
I got my dream job of working at a comic book store. My boss was super happy with how I handled customers. That was my strength: helping people. I was also responsible for cashing out at the end of the day, which was one of my weaknesses: simple math.
One day, my boss came up to me and said, “The amount you’re saying is in the drawer isn’t matching what’s actually there.”
I apologized. Then a couple of weeks later, he came up to me again and told me that I still didn’t have it right. Eventually, I got fired. He was sad to fire me because I was so great with the customers, but it had to be done because I just wasn't good at the math part and that was an important part of the job.
Shortly after that, I started working at UPS. My job was to sort the packages by zip codes and put them in the right bin. I was going too slow. My bosses told me to go faster. When I went faster, I made lots of mistakes.
I knew I was failing and there wasn’t much I could do about it. That job lasted about 30 days.
Now that I’m the boss of my own business with more than 50 people who work for me, I don’t need to do the work I’m not good at or that I don’t enjoy—two things that pretty much go hand in hand. I can assign the task to someone who’s great at it and who loves it.
Which is what I recommend for everyone—the cake-and-cringe principle that I mention in Chapter 10 of my book, Abundance Unleashed. In the same vein, in my company, I want to make sure people are doing what they love and working to their strengths.
If you don't own your own business…
Of course, not everyone owns their own business, but you can always present a case to your boss so you can do the work you’re good at and that you love. And if that doesn’t work, maybe you’ll need to find another job.
Everyone Has Strengths
A lot of people know what their strengths are. Many don’t. Most of us downplay our strengths. We don’t even realize they’re strengths because we just think that if something is easy for us, it’s probably easy for most people. We don’t even realize that maybe we actually have some genius in a certain area. But we do.
Mistake With Weaknesses
When we find out we have a weakness, what do we usually try to do? We try to strengthen that weakness when the best bet is to find our strengths and strengthen them. Get better at the things you’re good at. Whenever I failed, especially in the early days of my career, it was so easy to beat myself up: I suck at counting. I can’t count. How can I run a business if I can’t count? I finally got to the place of acceptance. It’s not the end of the world. That’s just how it is. But we all have the tendency to pile on the shame, self-judgment, and embarrassment.
My advice for you today is to think about areas in your life that are considered “weaknesses”. Do you focus way too much time on them? How have you used them to color how you see your whole life?
Then I want you to start acknowledging your strengths. How can you strengthen your strengths even more? Once you think about these things, let go of the attachment to the things you aren't good at and start taking steps to capitalize on your strengths.