Stop Using Your Left Hand
Most people are really good at something. And if they are not, then they most likely could get really good at something, with some time, practice, and initiative.
Most of us have some type of strength. Not always physical strength, but something else.
Some of us are smart. Some of us are great with people. Others can work well with their hands. Or are born to lead. Or are responsible.
And if you don’t have any apparent strengths — you’re well-rounded (which is a strength).
The number of strengths is too great to completely list.
But I have noticed that most people don’t use their strengths very often.
They focus more on weaknesses — on what they lack — rather than what they are really good at.
This Is the Best Interview Question
A common interview question is one that nearly everyone prepares for: what is your biggest weakness?
Of course, the questioner really does not want to know what someone’s biggest weakness is. In fact, if you tell them an actual weakness, then you might harm your chances of securing a position.
Usually, the interviewer wants to see how the candidate answers the question. Can you answer a question that has a negative answer but put it in a positive way?
I have done my share of interviews. I have even asked this question a few times. Asking what someone’s greatest weakness is, however, never really gave me any useful information.
I decided to change the question. When I am attempting to fill a position, I have limited time and I need to find the right person.
What’s the most valuable quality I am looking for? It is certainly not someone’s weakness. In fact, it’s the opposite. So I started to ask the most important pretty quickly.
I now almost always ask this question:
What is your biggest strength?
I want to know what this person will bring to our team. I want to know the skills that this person will add. I want to know how this person will supercharge what the team aims to accomplish.
I find the answers to this question so much more refreshing, relevant, and revealing.
If someone doesn’t have any strengths, how could they help a team?
Building a Team
“The main ingredient to stardom is the rest of the team.”
— John Wooden
Most people build teams based on who they like to spend time with. But there is a better way. Often teams need a collection strengths — different strengths.
Focusing on strengths is a great way to build a team. In 1979, Herb Brooks was given the chance to build a United States hockey team to win the Olympic gold medal. For years, however, the Russian team was nearly unbeatable. The Russians destroyed NHL All-Star teams, so how could a bunch of college players beat seasoned international veterans?
When Herb Brooks was searching for an United States Olympic hockey roster in 1979, he had access to the best young players in the entire country. Yet, Herb Brooks did not choose the best players overall ‒ he specifically chose players for their respective strengths. He had been studying the Russian team for nearly 20 years. He had created a system that needed different types of players ‒ or players with different strengths than were traditionally respected in the hockey world at that time.
In short, Herb Brooks focused on each player’s major strength in order to select his team. And in February 1980, Herb’s team beat the Russians and won the Olympic gold medal in Lake Placid, New York. In building his team, Herb Brooks focused on what he needed as a team ‒ and then found individuals with those strengths to join the team.
Not many mornings ago, I sat around a table at a incredible meeting of the minds — it was a true mastermind setting, with individuals of varying backgrounds and expertise. Each person had a different strength ‒ business, technology, law, finance, cybersecurity, sales, marketing, people. You could sense the synergy because every person had a strength that was filling the gaps ‒ or weaknesses ‒ of every other person. Collectively, every weakness disappeared because of the strengths of the individuals in the room.
Focusing on strengths is one the best team-building principles.
A Weakness Should Not Be Ignored, Unless This Is True
“Whatever time I may have to devote to the discovery and exposure of the weaknesses and faults of others I will devote, more profitably, to the discovery and correction of my own.”
— Napoleon Hill
Focusing on strengths is vital. But sometimes ignoring weak points can be fatal.
In basketball, shooting and dribbling with both hands is really useful. And if you can’t use both hands effectively, it is a weakness.
Strong strengths are important. But if a weakness will lead to your downfall, then you need to address it.
Moral failings can crush teams. Impulsive behavior can lead to complete destruction. There are certain weaknesses that cannot exist in a healthy person or team.
Some weaknesses must be corrected. So fix them and move forward.
Sometimes a weakness is filled with someone else’s strength. Other times you need to change your own behavior. You can fill gaps with people as well as develop your own capabilities.
But only focusing on weaknesses is a distraction.
Know your weaknesses. Use your strengths.
People Don’t Do Enough of This
“Strong people are harder to kill.”
— Mark Rippetoe
Recently, one of my young daughters saw me writing in my journal and asked me a question.
“Dad, why don’t you write with your left hand?”
I did not have a good answer, other than I am right-handed. I don’t really have a reason to write with my left hand.
But right after she asked that question, I recognized that there is some truth in her question.
Most people have amazing strengths. But they don’t use them. Instead they focus on other skills — or even weaknesses. I have witnessed other people develop weaknesses and then completely neglect some of their greatest strengths.
I have done it too. Recently, even.
So my advice to myself, and to anyone else who is not focusing on their greatest strengths, is simple.
Stop using your left hand.