Greetings, Glad You stoped by.
Three fourths of 2014 is over. Have you completed
three fourths of your 2014 goals?
Many of my clients develop an annual personal development
program. They outline what they want to do to get better
in some areas of their life. Sometimes it is to learn
something new, but many times there is emphasis on getting
real good at something they do well.
This month I would like to focus some energy on
Discover Your Strengths:
The Road to Self-improvement
"Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When
you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond
in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer." Peter
"To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming,
is the only end of life." Baruch Spinoza
Most of us have a poor sense of our talents and strengths. Throughout
our education and careers, there is a lot of attention paid
to our weaknesses. We are acutely aware of our faults and deficits,
our “opportunities for development, or whatever euphemism is
popular for naming them.
Parents, teachers and managers are all experts in spotting deficits.In
fact, most parents, teachers and managers consider it their
responsibility to point out flaws and try to help us correct
We have become experts in our own weaknesses and spend our lives
trying to repair our flaws, while our strengths lie dormant
and neglected. The research, however, is clear: we grow and
develop by putting emphasis on our strengths, rather than trying
to correct our deficits.
Most people don’t concern themselves with identifying their
talents and strengths. Instead, they choose to study their weaknesses.
A Gallup poll investigated this phenomenon by asking Americans,
French, British, Canadian, Japanese and Chinese people of all
ages and backgrounds the question: Which do you think will help
you improve the most: knowing your strengths or knowing your
The Path to Improvement:
Strengths or Weaknesses?
The answer was always the same: weaknesses, not strengths, deserve
the most attention. The most strengths-focused culture is the
United States, but still only a minority of people, 41 percent,
felt that knowing their strengths would help them improve the
most. The least strengths-focused cultures are Japan and China.
Only 24 percent believe that the key to success lies in their
strengths. The majority of people in the world don't think that
the secret to improvement lies in a deep understanding of their
strengths. Interestingly, in every culture the older people
(55 and above) were the least fixated on their weaknesses. Perhaps
they have acquired more self-acceptance and realize the futility
of trying to be what they are not.
Why are Weaknesses so Attractive?
Why do so many people avoid focusing on their strengths? Weaknesses
may be fascinating and strangely mesmerizing, like watching
soap operas and Jerry Springer shows. But the attraction lies
in the fact we deeply fear our weaknesses, our failures and
even our true self. Some people may be reluctant to investigate
their strengths because they may fear there isn't much in the
way of real talent or strength inside them anyway, or that they
are just average (again, ingrained from education models). Or,
maybe there is a feeling of inadequacy, an "imposter syndrome,"
and an underlying fear of being found out. Despite your achievements,
you may wonder whether you are as talented as everyone thinks
you are. You suspect that luck and circumstance may have played
a big part in your getting to where you are today. However,
if you do not investigate your strengths, for any of the above
fears and feelings of insecurity, you will miss out on discovering
more of who you really are. You will miss out on becoming who
you are really meant to be.
Too Close to See?
You are probably not as cognizant of your strengths as you could
be because most of us take them for granted. We are so embedded
in our strengths, we are not aware of them as strengths. We
think everybody is that way too. It never occurs to us to be
any other way; it is just natural for us.
This way of thinking excludes developing our strengths and becoming
even stronger and more brilliant. You can’t develop what you
don’t recognize. You can’t expand what you are not aware of.
Building on your strengths is also about responsibility. You
probably don’t take pride in your natural talents any more than
you would take pride in your sex, race, or hair color. Natural
talents are gifts from God and your gene pool.
However, you have a great deal to do with turning your talents
into strengths. You can take your talents into the realm of
excellence. It involves becoming acutely aware, developing an
action learning plan, and “practice, practice, practice”. Viewed
in this light, to avoid your strengths by focusing on your weaknesses
is almost a sign of irresponsibility.
The Courage to Be Brilliant
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest
fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves,
`Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually,
who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small doesn’t serve the world
The most responsible, yet the most challenging, thing to do
is to face up to your natural talents. It is an honor to have
such blessings. Do not waste them. Step up to the potential
inherent in your talents and find ways to develop your strengths.
Be true to yourself by becoming more of who you really are.
This advice is easy to give and difficult to put into practice.
It is easier when working with a trained professional coach.
Working with your coach can make it easier for you to identify
your talents and strengths. There are also a number of online
self-assessments available to help. Once your five top strengths
are identified, you can examine how they show up in your life.
It is a process of a few steps back, a few steps forward, and
learning as you go. It is not the same as book learning. The
only way to learn about your strengths is to act, learn, refine,
and then act, learn, refine. Open yourself to feedback. This
means you must be strong and courageous. Personal development
is not for sissies.
Discovering your true strengths is the path towards improvement
and success. When you pay attention to your deficits and try
to overcome them, you are placing emphasis on becoming what
you are not. You wind up living a second-rate version of someone
else’s life rather than a world-class version of your own.
I continue to be humbled by your kind remarks about this newsletter.
Thank you for sharing it with friends. Our subscriptions continue
I suggest to my clients that this is
an excellent time to make a list of all the things that you
are thankful for. I hope a high energy level is on your list.
I am very aware that managing energy is much more important
than managing time.
Managing energy versus managing time
is a new concept for many of us. Give me a call or send
me an email if youd like more information on how I can
help you develop this vital skill.
forward this to one of your friends,
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For the last twenty-two
years Jerry Pinney has been president of his own consulting firm.
Currently he focuses his efforts on providing executive and personal
coaching to persons who are interested in improving their quality
of life and consulting to small and mid-sized companies and nonprofits.
He is a facilitator for peer advisory groups with The Alternative
Board and is a Certified One Page Planning Consultant. Jerry has
over three decades of experience in the food industry, and possesses
a unique perspective of customer service, marketing and strategic
planning. In addition to overall general management qualifications,
Jerry has proven expertise in operational planning and business
development. His food industry career started at Jewel Food Stores
followed by a long career with IGA, with their retailers, wholesalers
and ten years as Vice President of Marketing. In addition Jerry
has served as Vice President of Membership for the National Grocers
Association, Sr. Vice President of Procurement for Shurfine International
and Executive Manager of The Zenon Hansen Foundation.
Jerry has also served on a number of nonprofit
boards including: President of the Volunteer Center of Northwest
Suburban Chicago. He is currently a Project Manager for the Executive
Service Corps of Chicago. Jerrys ESC assignments have included
coaching for several Executive Directors, and consulting on various
Board Development projects and on a number of strategic planning
Pinney & Associates
102 East 32nd Street
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