Throughout history, great achievers – Napoleon, da Vinci, and Mozart – Have always managed themselves. Their unusual talents and accomplishments have made them rare exceptions to ordinary people. Most of us, at one point or another will have to learn to manage and develop our strengths. Placing ourselves and our career where we can make the greatest contribution is essential. Staying alert and mentally engaged for a 55-year working life, will require a great deal of self-knowledge and understanding to manage how and when to change the work we do, and investing our efforts where they matter most.
Knowing your strengths
Most people think they know what they are good at, but they are usually wrong. And yet, a person can only build success based on strength. We need to understand our strengths in order to know where we belong. The only way to discover our strengths is through reflection analysis. Whenever you make an important decision or take a major action step, write down what you expect will happen. Six to 12 months later, compare the results with your expectations. I have been practicing this method for 10 years now, and every time I do, I am amazed. Practiced consistently, this simple, yet effective process will show you within two to three years where your strengths lie. It will show you where you have no strengths, and therefore cannot perform.
Improving your Strengths
First and foremost concentrating on your strengths, will be imperative to producing results. Way too often, I come across Human Resources professionals, managers, and supervisors who are not only unaware of the strengths of their employees, but also focus on improving weaknesses when conducting performance appraisals. This practice can only hinder the true potential development of the workplace. To employees being managed in similar situations, I urge you to focus on your own reflection analysis. This will rapidly show the gaps in your knowledge, which can always be filled. Remember, mathematicians may be born, but everyone can learn trigonometry.
Managing your Intellectual Arrogance
Far too many people, especially those with expertise in one area, are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas. Engineers tend to pride themselves in not knowing anything about managing people, claiming they are too disorderly for the great engineering mind to comprehend. Human Resources professionals, by contrast, pride themselves on their ignorance of financial accounting and research methods altogether. I do not resonate with generalists, neither do I believe one can be experts at everything. Well-rounded knowledge, however, serves as a fundamental tool for development. Start acquiring the skills and knowledge you need today to fully realize your strengths.
And finally, comparing your expectations with your results will help you to realize what not to do. We all have a vast number of areas where we have no talents or skills, in such areas one should spend as little effort as possible. It takes far more energy to move from incompetence to mediocrity than to focus on moving from low performance to excellence. Yet, most organizations are on a mission to turn incompetent performers into mediocre ones. Energy, resources, and time, should instead be invested in identifying competent contributors, and turning them into star performers.
By Sophia Sanchez, PhD(c), SPHRFounder and Principal Consultant Develop For Results International Author of “The Development Alternative: Powerful Strategies for unparalleled Business Results” DevelopForResults.com SophiaSanchezBlog.com