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Monday, November 21, 2011

Focus On Your Strength



Last year I went to an NHL Ice Hockey match. I'm not a huge sports fan, but it was my son's birthday so I arranged this as a treat for him. We sat there together watching two teams battle it out on the ice, and as we did I began to realize something. These men are focusing on their areas of strength!
Then I began to think about the Winter Olympics which had happened earlier in the year. Thousands of the world's top athletes converged to demonstrate their skills to the world in various disciplines. Each man and woman had chosen to spend many hours a day, over many years, to reach this point. This could be the highlight of their career. And for those who took home medals, it certainly was.
These various sportsmen and sportswomen had learned to focus on their areas of strength. After many hours of practice, training, more practice, more training, and even more practice, they had become good enough to compete at an international level. But this is where it gets interesting.
The champion alpine skiers at the Olympics had practiced skiing. The speed skaters had practiced their favorite discipline - skating quickly. The bobsled team (of which I knew a member personally) had practiced bobsledding. I'm sure you get the point. Each of the athletes had worked on his or her area of strength. They had spent countless hours taking that strength and making themselves even better at it. They had employed coaches, mostly former Olympians, to help them hone their strengths and refine their skills.
So we know what the athletes did do with their time. Have you ever considered what they did not do? To put it rather bluntly, they did not spend their time on areas of weakness outside of their particular discipline. During all the news reports, press coverage and interviews, the athletes did not focus on their weaknesses. Members of the bobsled team did not concern themselves with the fact they are not good at skiing. The alpine skiers did not talk about their weaknesses in speed skating! These athletes had learned to concentrate on their areas of strength, and not worry about being weak in an unrelated discipline.
This is one of the challenges our Western societies currently face. We have fantastic school systems that give us an excellent all round education. We study Math, Science, Languages, Sports, Social, History, Geography, Music, Art, Drama, Computer Technology and so on. Out of the list of subjects we study, one or two will touch on our areas of strength, the others won't. However each teacher expects us to be great at his or her subject! So we work hard. We get an A in Music because that comes easy to us, but Science is much more of a challenge. So we spend a lot of extra time on Science just so we can pass the end of year exams with a C.
While I think it is good to work hard and build skills in different areas, I believe we've got some aspects of this wrong. If you are great at Music but are failing at Science, get a Music tutor and get even better at it! Certainly a Science tutor might help you pass, but they will never help you become as good in Science as you naturally are in Music. Whereas if you take your existing skill and work on it you will get better and better, and you will be having a lot more fun in life! You will become highly skilled and may end up being able to make a living based on something you love to do and are naturally gifted at.
If you spend a lot of time on your areas of weakness, you will just end up with a bunch of stronger weaknesses. But in the time it took you to build up your skills, you were ignoring your areas of strength. That is not a good thing!
Think about your working life for a moment. Does your job reflect something that you are naturally gifted at? When you are at work, are you spending at least 80% of your time in your areas of strength? If the answer to these questions is "no", you probably aren't enjoying your job all that much.
My challenge to everyone who would like to live the life of their dreams, is to begin identifying their areas of strength and weakness. There are probably lots of things you are okay at, a few things you are really good at, and a number of things you are totally useless at. Concentrate on those things you are really good at. Work on those areas of natural brilliance!
For me, I am a terrible handyman. It is a huge area of weakness for me. Any time I have performed little jobs around the house I got confused and managed to mess it up in some way. That usually resulted in extreme frustration and disappointment. Sometimes I even made the problem worse. If I was to rate my skill on a level of 1 to 10, I would definitely be a 1. Now I don't even try to do handyman jobs. I call up friends who are gifted at the use of tools and who love to share their skills to help out our family.
What I am gifted at is Public Speaking. When I give talks to various audiences, I come alive. I feel like I am doing what I was made for. I find it thrilling to get up and give a speech, whether it is to 15 people or to 500. I enjoy sharing some of the discoveries I have made in life, and people seem love to hear about them. In fact they tell me that their lives are changed because of the things I say. They may laugh or cry during my speeches, but they also experience some kind of transformation. They are left with thoughts that can change their world. They feel motivated and inspired. So not only do I love getting up there to talk to an audience, but they love it too.
If I was to rate my skill as a Public Speaker, I would probably be a 9 out of 10. But I want to be a 10 out of 10. So just like the athletes mentioned at the beginning of this article, I practice. I give speeches as often as I can. I take part in a speaker's club where I work through different exercises and projects in order to get better. I record almost all of my presentations on video or audio. I then go back and refine my speeches, my method of delivery, my voicing, my inflections, my body language and so on. I am passionate about getting better at it all the time.
So what is your 9 out of 10? What is your natural area of strength, the thing you love to do? A big part of life is discovering your natural talents, then taking responsibility for your life by choosing to grow in those areas. Those who do lead lives that are fulfilling because they have a sense of purpose. They know what they are good at and they can use their skills and talents for the benefits of others.
My challenge to you today is this. Think about your natural talents... the things you are gifted at. Work on your skills, and constantly pursue opportunities to become better at them. Whether it be Sports, Music, Speaking, Languages... the discipline itself doesn't matter. What matters is that you are great at it and you enjoy it. Then develop those gifts and realize your full potential!
Robin Abrol is a motivational speaker in Canada. Having achieved 4 major life dreams by the age of just 32, he now encourages people to find their purpose and live their dreams. His goal is to help you reach your maximum potential and fulfill your destiny. His speeches contain both practical and spiritual insights, and are designed to provide you with tools that will help you live a purposeful and meaningful life.
If you are unsure of your purpose in life, why not download Robin's free workbook, Finding Your Dream the content of which specifically relates to this article.
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