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What Do You Do Right?

photo by:  seanmcgrath

photo by:  seanmcgrath

I bet you know more about what you do wrong than what you do right.  We have a tendency to notice more of the “wrong” things about ourselves than we do the “right.”  I’m not sure where this tendency comes from, but for most of us we really have to try to see the right things that we do, whereas the wrong things seem easy to pick out.

Think about the last time you came out from an activity, maybe a job interview or some social situation, and you immediately thought about all the things that you did wrong, and all the ways in which you were inadequate.  This comes very easily to us.  But the thing about focusing on the negative is that it is de-energizing.  Ruminating about all the things you did wrong does not make you want to move forward.

We tend to do this more in situations where we don’t feel comfortable – a job interview, for instance, where we are on the spot and the pressure to perform is on, or a party where we don’t know many people and don’t feel confident starting conversations with people we don’t know.  These situations are when the wheels of negativity start spinning.

But, what if you could walk out of these situations and begin to think of the things that you did well.  First of all, if the situation makes you uncomfortable, give yourself a point simply for going.  Second, make yourself think of some things that you did well, even if you really have to dig deep for them.

We will always have our strengths and our weaknesses.  But being constantly focused on weaknesses doesn’t really help us that much, because it’s our strengths that will take us where we ultimately want to go.  No matter how far we develop our weaknesses, they will still be our weaknesses.  However, if we begin consciously to develop our strengths, we can become excellent at something in a way that we never imagined.

Focusing on what you have done right is a way of keeping yourself on the right path.  Follow your strengths, and develop your weaknesses enough so that they can come along with you.  Ultimately, what you love to do and what you have a proclivity towards becomes a strength.  The opposite becomes a weakness.  Do what you love to do often, and see where that takes you.

Usually, we are much harder on ourselves than we need to be.  There will always be lots of things that we can’t do well, but there will also be a few things that we can do (or have the potential to do) exceptionally well.  Don’t spend your time focused on the many things that you can’t do, or you may never have time for the few things you have the potential to excel at.  Spending too much time focused on your weaknesses is like sacrificing your strengths.  Don’t waste them.  🙂

How do you balance your strengths and your weaknesses?  Have you found it more advantageous to develop your weaknesses or to focus on your strengths?  Feel free to leave your answer in the comments.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Positively Present April 21, 2009, 6:35 pm

    This is such a great post. So often we are thinking about what we did wrong and not about what we did right. I definitely find it better to work on my strengths.

    http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

    Positively Present’s last blog post..change your mind about change

  • Christopher April 21, 2009, 9:50 pm

    Glass half full right? I’m so bad at that. Thanks for the reminder!!!

    Christopher’s last blog post..New York City Public School Kids Sing Coldplay’s "Viva La Vida"

  • Karen Chaffee April 22, 2009, 12:34 am

    I have found it better to focus on my strengths. They can help compensate for my weaknesses, as well as stand on their own merit. Great post!

  • Daphne April 22, 2009, 12:46 am

    Amanda,

    I love your wisdom and gentle way of saying things. Just yesterday I was discussing with a group of people how we are often quick to criticise and slow to praise, and you’ve said it extremely well here. We need to remember to praise ourselves too.

    Daphne’s last blog post..7 Kreativ Posts on the Dance of Life

  • Lee Ann / Living Introverted April 22, 2009, 6:20 am

    Hi Amanda,

    This is a great post! I’ve often wondered why we do this to ourselves – pick out our faults (real or not) and mistakes and then forget about our own greatness – I do it – in fact, this post is timely for me because it seems I’ve been doing it a lot lately!

    In an effort to curb my own lack of appreciation for the gifts I have and the good things that I do, I’ve made a concerted effort to nurture myself and take note of my accomplishments and the value I bring to the world and my family and friends and then examine my “faults” to see if they are true and need work, or if I am possibly giving them too much power.

    I agree with Daphne that we are often quick to criticize and slow to praise with both others and ourselves. It’s time to turn that around! 🙂 Self awareness is the first step.

    Lee Ann / Living Introverted’s last blog post..How to Develop Your Introvert Inner Life

  • Amanda Linehan April 22, 2009, 8:57 pm

    Hi Positively Present – Thanks for your perspective on this. 🙂

    Hi Christopher – Yes! This is definitely a glass half-full approach!

    Hi Karen – That’s a good point. Our strengths can overshadow our weaknesses (thank goodness) and using them that way makes us focus on our weaknesses a little less.

    Hi Daphne – Thanks very much 🙂 It’s funny that “praise” is often our second thought. It would be nice if it were the first.

    Hi Lee Ann – I also used to be very tuned in to things that I didn’t like about myself – things that others seemed to be much better at than me. But the whole time I was missing the things that I did well that many other people don’t do as well. I’m glad I was able to see myself from another angle 🙂

  • Vikum April 23, 2009, 1:15 pm

    Hi Amanda,
    A nice fact and a great post. We need to focus on our strengths and praise ourselves about them than criticize ourselves about our weaknesses. No matter how little the strengths are we need to find them. well said.

  • Amanda Linehan April 24, 2009, 10:39 am

    Hi Vikum – Yes, we do need to find those strengths and usually we find that they are not that little! Especially if we begin to spend time developing them. Thanks!

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