Want to win? Play to Your Strength?


I’ve been talking to a lot of clients and business owners about where they stand when it comes to Effort vs. Success in their business…and a lot of them are working really hard and not seeing nearly as much success as they’d like to see.

There are a lot of possible reasons for this:

  • Broken (or at least fractured) business model
  • Not having the right people in the right seats
  • Inability to consistently drive new opportunities
  • Having every decision go through the owner

And that’s just to name a few.

But there’s an additional issue that is very common that actually packs a double whammy…it makes it a lot more difficult to win and you end up hating what you’re doing.

I’m talking about business owners who don’t play to their personal strength.Instead they try to do everything (thus insuring that they spend a lot of time on stuff they aren’t necessarily great at) or they take the misguided approach of working on and focusing on their weaknesses as the best way to get ahead. (Imagine a business owner who’s really good at sales and customer service, but not comfortable with accounting spending hours every week poring over their financials).

When you play to your power things feel easy and you enjoy what you’re doing.

When you play to your strength you have the chance to be truly exceptional (you will never be exceptional if you are focusing on improving your weakness…best case you’re likely to be average).

When you play to your strength…and you delegate the things you’re not so good at to someone with THOSE strengths, your business suddenly gets a LOT stronger.

Dan Sullivan, author and founder of Strategic Coach often talks about the importance of entrepreneurs finding their Unique Ability…that one thing that you are uniquely gifted at and meant to be doing. The kicker…according to Sullivan is that most of us don’t explicitly know what our Unique Ability is and therefore we don’t focus on building around it.

Figure out your Unique Ability…your power

Therefore the first step is to tap into the one, or at least the top 2 or 3 things you are really good at. Sullivan suggests using the Kolbe assessment as a possibility starting point, along with doing a Strength Finders assessment (I’ve done Strength Finders and found it to definitely be worthwhile).  In case you’re interested, here’s a complete list of the 34 talents / strengths that Strength Finders uses – Strength Finders Themes

You could also ask people you work with (employees, customers, partners, etc.) to let you know what they think you’re really good at…where you shine.

Finally – carve out a bit of quiet time and think about when you feel like you’re really ‘in the zone’ when you’re working…what are you doing when that feeling is there?

Out of all of that, hopefully you can come up with a short list of things that you’re really good at.

Take An Audit of Your Time

The next step is to figure out how you actually are spending your time.

Over the next week or two and force yourself to be aware of how you spend your time…maybe you can just review your calendar and summarize your activities or maybe you need to carry around a notebook for a week and just jot down what you did every day.

When you summarize where you’re spending your time, how many of those activities would you describe as Playing to Your Strength?

Are you spending 25% of your time doing stuff you’re really great at? Are you spending half your time in your zone? The eventual goal would be to spend most of your time where you are at your best.

If you’re like a lot of business owners, your percentage is likely fairly low – and that’s a big reason why growing your business feels so challenging.

Find at least 1 or 2 things to delegate

You’re not going to immediately be able to start spending all of your time in your power areas, but what you can do is to start small. Find at least 1 or 2 things that you do on a weekly basis that you don’t particularly like and find a way to eliminate, delegate or outsource that activity.

It may cost you some money to get the activity off of your plate – but if you can replace that activity with something you’re strong in…your Unique Ability, then you’ll see a couple of things happen:

– You’ll be a lot happier about how you’re spending your time

– You’ll be a lot more effective, get more done and make a really positive impression on those around you

The end result is a quick improvement about how you feel about your business and how it performs. Do this once a quarter and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your business…and how you feel about it, will turn around.

What do you think? Are you currently playing to your strength? How does it feel when you get that opportunity? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach