I recently read an article that asked people what the best compliment they ever received was. This got me thinking. It got me thinking about how we really don’t focus enough on our strengths when we talk about personal growth, self-awareness, fulfillment, becoming our best selves, following our dreams and seizing our passions.
I know this to be true for me, and I suspect it’s true for a lot of you. When I think about what Seize Your Passion means to me, when I think about self-improvement and achieving all my goals and becoming the best me I can be, I tend to automatically think about, and focus on, my weaknesses. What areas or skill sets can and should I improve upon that I’m not really good at. I tend to think about how I can become better in the negative mindset areas – things I’m not good at; rather than have a positive mindset and focus on improving my strengths, so that I can become even better at the things that I am already pretty damn good at; if not great at.
It’s a normal and natural response, I think. When we think about improving something, our brains instinctively go to the things that “need” improvement. BUT, if we start to direct our thoughts and focus towards improving our strengths, rather than our weaknesses, then the potential for truly seizing your passion – for becoming an expert, all-star super star in those areas of strengths – is literally limitless with room for exponential growth and success in a way that can never ever happen if we focus our time and energy on improving our weaknesses.
A similar concept is what Dan Sullivan, an incredible thought leader and founder of Strategic Coach, talks about as the concept of “Unique Ability.” He believes we all have certain unique abilities, and in order to fully maximize our success, and our happiness and purpose in life, we need to discover what our unique ability is, and then focus exclusively on it. He defines “Unique Ability” as those activities and areas in which we have innate talent, skills & passion for. it is in that space where the potential for growth is at it’s strongest.
He breaks down the basic tools to discovering your “Unique Ability” into four categories:
- Incompetence. These are the areas and activities that you simply are not good at; and you don’t enjoy doing them either. Basically, you suck at whatever it is. (I can name a few activities and areas that fall into this category for myself). Here, there is NO potential for real growth or fulfillment. You may get a bit better over time, but you’ll have poured a ton of energy, frustration and time just to reach a level of incompetency that’s may be a bit better than fully sucking at it; but let’s face it, you’ll never be a superstar here.
- Competence. These are the things you’re OK at. You’re not great, not even very good; but you can get by in these areas. You don’t have a particular interest in doing these activities either; you do them to get the deed done. Period. Here, there’s very little potential for real growth or fulfillment.
- Excellence. Here are things you’re actually great at. However, you’re not really passionate about them. While there is some room for growth and fulfillment here, primarily from the positive feedback you receive from others about how great you are in this area, there’s no room here for true exponential and limitless growth, or true happiness, meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
- Unique Ability – Then, there’s this. This is the sweet spot area where you are naturally and innately great at something; it come’s easily to you; you could do it all day long; AND you really enjoy doing it. You feel alive, and in the zone when you engage in these activities. You’re passionate about it. This is where, Dan says, there is endless potential for growth, success AND personal happiness & fulfillment.
But, before you can discover and focus on your unique ability, first you need to simply start acknowledging and focusing your time and energy and thoughts of improvement on your strengths; rather than on your weaknesses. By doing so, you’ll create more value for yourself and for others; you’ll have more potential for growth to become a super-star in that area; you’ll stimulate and motivate more creativity, efficiency and productivity, you’ll therefor enjoy greater success; and perhaps most importantly, you will also achieve true happiness, fulfillment and meaning in your life.
So, ask yourself: What is the best compliment you can give yourself or that you’ve ever received? What do you love doing? What are you great at? What do others see in you as an added value to them? When have you felt like the best version of yourself? When does time fly by or you feel most alive and in the “zone”? What comes naturally and effortlessly to you?
It’s not so easy to compliment ourselves and list our own strengths. I had to sit down, really think about it and write these things down. For me – in my personal life, it was my 8 year old daughter who recently gave me one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. She said what she loved most about me was how I always know how to make her feel good about herself. Even and especially when she’s feeling sad, or insecure, or frustrated, she said. I always know what to say or do so that she feels special and beautiful inside and out. As a parent, if any of you can relate, that’s possibly the greatest compliment you can receive- to know that you are giving your child the gift and lesson of self-love and self-worth.
In my professional life, I would say I have a few strengths that I’m going to now more consciously focus on to lead me to discover my true unique abilities and grow exponentially from there. I am extremely detail oriented; I am a very quick study and fast learner; I take direction well and am a good listener; but I am also a great leader;I love storytelling, especially through the medium of film, tv and video; I am self-aware; I have a ton of gumption, tenacity, and of course passion; and I always strive for excellence in whatever I do.
I encourage you to start thinking about these questions; and to start focusing your time and energy into your strengths to grow more, learn more, become more, be more and to #SeizeYourPassion!
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