3 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Effectiveness in Your Life
Warren Buffett is one of the richest people in the world with a net worth of over $83 billion dollars. But it’s not just his net worth that he is known for; it’s how he accumulated it. Buffett is a skilled investor and has spent the majority of his life mastering how to invest properly. He understands the necessity of investing in the right things and has reaped the benefits of doing so for most of his life.
Though this article is not about accumulating Buffett-like wealth, it is about investing. And not a financial investment, but the investment individuals make in improving effectiveness in their personal and professional lives.
Most individuals desire to improve effectiveness in their lives. This is why people join gyms, go back to school, read books, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, or any other number of activities. We are all wired with the desire for doing things more effectively. However, most people who do take a step to improve themselves end up investing in the wrong thing:
The investment they make is in reforming their weaknesses.
It makes sense as to why most people would invest in this way. Typically, our weaknesses occupy more space in our minds than our strengths do. We are very aware of and self-conscious about our weaknesses and we perceive that others notice them far more than our strengths. Even in professional settings managers are far more likely to suggest an area of improvement than to compliment a strength.
Here is the truth: as an individual, your weaknesses are far less of a liability than your strengths are an asset. Often we see this the other way around, and because we only have so much time and effort to invest in ourselves, it causes us to invest primarily in reforming our weaknesses at the cost of building on our strengths. If we do eventually get around to investing in our strengths, we do so with limited leftover efforts.
As an individual, your weaknesses are far less of a liability than your strengths are an assetTweet
Investing in reforming your weaknesses may yield results, but weaknesses rarely turn into outright strengths. At best, a weakness becomes less weak, but in the end, it remains a weakness. Additionally, investing time and effort into something that will likely never become a strength will negatively affect your self-confidence, and research shows this diminishes overall effectiveness and puts a person at a disadvantage long-term1.
Does this mean we just ignore our weaknesses and never try to improve on them? Of course not! The real issue is we can become so consumed with turning our weaknesses into strengths that we miss out on tapping into our potential through our natural gifts and talents. We do this in the name of becoming “well-rounded” and yet the real result is capped potential. Simply put, investing in your strengths will yield a far better return than reforming your weaknesses — every single time.
Simply put, investing in your strengths will yield a far better return than reforming your weaknesses — every single timeTweet
So what do you do?
Here are three simple things you can do right now to improve effectiveness in your life:
1. Shift your investment mindset from reforming weaknesses to building on your strengths
Consider your mindset in both your personal and professional lives. Imagine the following spectrum representing your life. 1 represents “I only invest in reforming weaknesses” and 10 represents “I only invest in building on my strengths”. I would guess most people would say they invest somewhere between 1 and 5. Investing in this way is a losing battle and will only diminish your effectiveness, cap your potential, and kill your self-confidence. The sweet spot on the spectrum is somewhere around a 7. At 7, you will be focusing most of your efforts on developing your strengths while not outright ignoring glaring weaknesses. Again, I’m not saying to neglect reforming your weaknesses, but don’t do it at the expense of building on your strengths. Your strengths are far and above the better investment.
2. Identify 3 to 5 of your greatest strengths
Come up with a list of your greatest personal and professional strengths. Examples of these may be things such as empathy, faith, consistency, peacemaking, strategic thinking, analyzing, organization, communication, competition, management, or learning. If you are not sure what your strengths are, I would suggest asking a trusted friend or colleague. Additionally, tools such as the Clifton StrengthsFinder would be well worth the financial cost as a starting point for future investment in your strengths. Once you identify your strengths, write them down and keep them in a place where you will be reminded of them often.
3. Determine a SMART strategy for improving each of your strengths
Often when we think of improvements, we sabotage ourselves by setting unrealistic goals. For example, a person with a public speaking strength who gives a killer PowerPoint presentation at work decides their next step will be giving a TED talk. Now, it’s not that this goal isn’t worthwhile, but the jump from work presentation to TED talk is most likely not going to be achieved, and if this person doesn’t end up on a TED stage, they will feel like they failed and may even give up on their public speaking strength. This is obviously a dramatic illustration, but hopefully, you understand the idea.
The best thing you can do to build on your strengths is to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.) goals for each of your strengths. Allow your mindset to be small and attainable rather than grandiose and momentous. Using a football illustration, imagine that building your strengths is like constantly being on the one-yard line and it’s always 1st and goal. The objective is not 99 yards; it’s one. It’s not 4th down, so you have time and can try different things. You only need to move the ball forward a little bit each time.
Investing in your strengths in these three simple ways can help you become more effective in every area of your life. Doing these three things may not land you on Forbes’ list of richest people in the world, but I’m certain Warren Buffett would still approve of the investment
If you found this article on improving effectiveness helpful, you could benefit even more by hiring a personal coach to provide further perspective and accountability.
As a life and leadership coach, I love helping individuals balance their lives, navigate transitions, get unstuck, and solve problems so they can reach their potential, both personally and professionally. The best part of personal coaching with The Hope Company is that the first session is completely free with no commitments! It’s our way of helping you invest in bettering yourself. For more information, please visit our website or give us a call today!
1From a 2008 University of Florida study with colleagues Tim Judge and Charlice Hurst as outlined in the book, Strengths Based Leadership (Rath & Conchie, 2008), ISBN 978-1-59562-031-6