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July 28, 2008
Your Strengths Are Your
The other day one of you wrote to me, “David, why should we focus on our
strengths? We can do some more work on what we’re already good at, but
why not just get right to our weaknesses?” Let me tell you about an
experience I had with one of my daughters.
Last year, Eliana, who was four at the time, came into the kitchen with
a big smile and a “rattling” box in her hands. She walked past me,
climbed up on a stool and dropped the box on the breakfast counter. I
had barely enough time to read the box cover, “Jewelry Making Kit,” when
Eliana said, “Papi, let’s make a bracelet.”
Eliana and I delicately strung beads on a bracelet wire. We used beads
of all colors, beads with numbers, and we even spelled Eliana’s name.
One hour later and our bracelet was complete.
There was just one problem. The bracelet did not fit Eliana’s wrist! I
couldn’t believe it. After all that effort, it was too small.
wouldn’t accept it. I had invested too much time to give up, and I
didn’t want to disappoint Eliana. So I tried everything to make it work.
I took off beads. I made the knots on the ends smaller. I tried to
stretch the wire. And then finally, somehow I found a way to hook the
bracelet, but just barely.
was relieved until I heard a yell from the play room five minutes later.
I ran in to find Eliana, and Ariela, my then-three year old, looking at
the floor. Not only had the bracelet popped off, all the beads were now
buried in our carpet!
The bottom line was simple: The bracelet just didn’t fit. It didn’t
matter what we did, there was not enough material to work with. We did
not have enough bracelet wire.
The same is true when we try to do great things in our lives by spending
our energy focusing on our weaknesses: We get coached, we get trained,
we get motivated, we get inspired, but there’s only so much we can do.
Why? There’s just not enough material to work with – that’s why they’re
The science of Positive Psychology focuses instead on how we can use our
most natural strengths to achieve our greatest and most gratifying
successes in life. Most people focus their life on simply building
skills to meet their job responsibilities. The best leaders know that
this approach is incomplete. They focus instead on bringing out their
top strengths, developing them and maximizing their use in support of
the outcomes they are determined to achieve. Then these leaders turn to
skill building to complement their natural power. They start with
strength, and then add skill.
Your chances of success as a leader increase greatly when you follow my
ADAPT Strengths Model of Leadership Development. Leaders do best when
they become aware of their strengths, develop them,
apply them to their work and life, partner with others to
amplify their strengths and find ways to work around their lesser
strengths. They then implement this same approach with the teams
The most important thing you can do in your life is to use your most
abundant strengths and passion to live your best life possible. Don’t
make bracelets that won’t fit.
The best place to look for greatness is inside our strengths. Go where
you have the best material.
David J. Pollay’s book, Beware of
Garbage Trucks!™, is due out this Fall. Mr. Pollay is the creator of
“Beware of Garbage Trucks!™ -
The Law of the Garbage Truck™ (www.bewareofgarbagetrucks.com).” He is a syndicated columnist with the
North Star Writers Group,
creator and host of The
Happiness Answer™ television
program and DVD, and an internationally sought after speaker. Mr. Pollay
is the founder and president of the consulting and
seminar organization, The Momentum Project, LLC (www.themomentumproject.com).
David J. Pollay. Distributed by North Star Writers Group. May not be
republished without permission.
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