As an owner of a small business for 35 years, I struggled early on to understand why a lot of us were conditioned to “try harder” when things weren’t going well. Overcoming personal deficits is an essential part of the fabric of our culture. We cheer loudly when the underdog beats the odds. Books and movies weave wonderful stories of these heroes that we glorify and celebrate as they triumph over evil. We relate to their humanness and appreciate when their lack of natural ability saves the day, which often overshadows their innate talents.
“Just Try Harder”
Early on, my parents discovered that my math skills were “a big weakness,” as evidenced by my below-average grades in school. Despite their lectures to work harder, study longer and seek out help, my frustration grew and I topped out at a C+. A future in finance was out! However, in focusing on my weakness, they over-looked my interest in the library where I could spend hours reading about things that mattered to me. My reading ‘superpower’ was eclipsed by my weakness in math and a perceived lack of effort to ‘fix’ it on my part. I just wasn’t wired to be a math wiz.
Weaknesses vs. Strengths - Where Should We Focus?
Most cultures continue to push the misnomer that a student’s lowest grades deserve the most time and attention. I experienced first-hand the stress and frustration associated with putting in endless hours but never achieving success. Math simply wasn’t a strength for me, and that’s ok. Why do we invest more time in our areas of weakness rather than areas of strength?
Years of research by the likes of Gallop, Wiley, and others, have resulted in the development of assessments like DISC, Myers-Briggs, and Kolbe to identify individual, innate strengths of people. They’ve discovered that each person has greater potential for success in specific areas. The key to personal success and development is building on who you already are. Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, calls this “Unique Ability”. From the book Unique Ability 2.0 by Nomura and Waller, here is the definition:
There are four characteristics of Unique Ability:
Some people discover their Unique Ability naturally and become powerful forces in their fields and endeavors. Their passion and talent create enormous energy for others. Simply put, they add value because they are using their innate gifts that impact themselves and others, and this leads to a path of never-ending improvement.
Everyone has Unique Abilities. They shape who we are and show up in our talents, skills, habits, personality characteristics, activities, and creativity. In the words of Sullivan, “The essence of your talent has been at play in your life since childhood-Unique Ability is ‘factory-installed.’”
How Do You Know When You’re Using Your Unique Ability?
How Are You Using Your Unique Ability?
How many hours each day do you spend in your own Unique Ability, and why is it important to do so? As a small business owner, you most likely wear too many hats, which results in focusing on low-level problems and having difficulty delegating. Those distractions make it hard to take advantage of your most important assets: your own Unique Abilities.
Being selfish about your focus and how you spend your time enables you to stay true to who you are and what you’re good at. That’s critical in growing a strong, thriving business. You know what they say…. As the leader goes, so goes the business.
For more information, additional resources, or if you just want to chat, please reach out.