It strikes me when doing work on strengths-based leadership that the biggest hindrance to people connecting with their strengths is a subconscious and unhealthy attachment to GUILT. Our education drums into us this idea that functional humans must spend a disproportionate amount of time working on their weakness so that they can be ‘well rounded’ and that as we do so we must carry some level of guilt about that which we are weak at.
And so when introducing the concept of focusing on strengths as a more sure and healthy methodology of reaching peak performance to a room, what I immediately start to grapple with is people who cannot imagine living without the guilt of their weaknesses. It has become a normalised state of our beingness. We are addicted to it!
As you work on your self mastery please be acutely aware of the following:
- There is no such thing as a well-rounded leader. The best leaders (and in fact the best performers) have a spike in one or two things and they delegate the rest. They are in fact ‘edgy’ vs ‘well rounded.’
- Spending all your time on weaknesses will likely get you to mediocrity and further away from genius. By all means try to improve on the things you are naturally weak at but with the knowing that they will not be the source of your contribution to your world ultimately.
- And finally guilt is actually not a useful emotion to cultivate when it comes to your growth. The word is traced back to the German word ‘geld’ meaning ‘to pay’. Somewhere in our life experience we are told that there is a public standard to live up to and if we display any weakness in that area we ought to pay through an excessive need to make amends. The result: we live in a constant state of limited capacity and even worse paralysis.
As Alfred Adler said: “guilt strives for superiority on the useless side of life – we feel guilty instead of doing what we ought.” Peter F. Drucker also said “One cannot build performance on weakness, let alone on something one cannot do at all.”
Gallup research tells us that 80% of the world’s working population is disengaged. The big driver behind this is that people have become so disconnected from what they are naturally good at that they are largely uninspired to apply themselves. No wonder we find ourselves in such a turbulent world! Uninspired people create big shadows. We have people walking to their desks everyday feeling defeated before they even get there. Our performance reviews keep encouraging employees to work on their weaknesses when there are strengths they could be sharpening in order to peak their performance.
By living in constant guilt of our weaknesses we miss out on the beauty and the power of that which we are naturally strong at (and likely came to the earth for). Focus on the strengths and you will soon find out the weaknesses become less relevant. Start today by locating something that you tend to be naturally good at and put a lot of energy into getting even better. By the end of the day you will be so full of the higher emotions of ambition, fulfillment and euphoria that you will kick guilt in the butt!
Go ahead and be your strong self!