A Viking ship beaches on the shore of a northern wilderness. The warriors leap off one by one and head up the beach. One of the last men off is not a Viking, but a Middle Eastern court poet who has somehow been caught up in this adventure against his will. From the ship’s deck one of the Vikings calls out to him, “Here, you’ll need this!” and heaves down a very large sword. The poet barely catches it and yells back, “I cannot lift this!” The Viking gives him a wry smile and shouts, “Grow stronger!” (from The 13th Warrior)
I loved this great article about working in your strengths from blogger Matt Perman http://whatsbestnext.com/the-book/toolkit/do-what-energizes-you-not-what-weakens-you-what-it-means-to-work-in-your-strengths/
I’ll warn you ahead of time, it is a very LONG post, but worth the read. Matt argues convincingly that we should all be focusing and re-focusing on working from our strengths. It is easy to shrug this off as unrealistic, but Perlman disagrees, saying:
“Some people think this is a luxury. That this is the happy benefit of those who have finally ‘made it’ and hence have control over their work and time.
But I submit it is actually the reverse. Being able to do the things that energize you is not the luxury you get to have once you’ve been successful; rather, it’s the way to become successful. For you will work harder, longer, and with more diligence at things you love to do over things you dislike to do.”
He shares a few concepts I really appreciate, including the incredibly simple but also very effective way of identifying a strength, which he quotes from Marcus Buckingham:
“your strengths are those activities that make you feel strong.”
Almost weirdly simple, isn’t it? And yet really true. Think of the activities in your day that sap your energy. Now think of those things you do, hopefully on a somewhat regular basis, that suddenly refill your tank. What if those things were your primary activities?
The other concept I love is his description of strengths or talents as a multiplier.
“Here’s the important thing about talents: When you add knowledge and skill to an area of talent, the talent acts as a multiplier. Not an additive, but a multiplier. So if you add knowledge to an area where you have talent, you don’t become twice as good at it; you become ten times as good at it.
This is why it is best to focus on building your strengths, not areas of weakness. For the difference in effectiveness is immense. You won’t just be a bit more effective; you will be many times more effective.”
I noted with interest that he was clear that talents themselves are not enough, but must be paired with a clear interest or drive in that area. This is parallel to the way I explore combining your Purpose with your Insight in What’s Your Function?
Matt does a terrific job making the case for working in your strengths as a matter of Kingdom building and Biblical stewardship. He exhorts, “Don’t be like the guy that buried his talent in the ground.”
I hope you enjoy the post and see more clearly the strengths God has given you for His glory.