Forget what they told you in school growing up. Some of the world's most successful entrepreneurs say they were wrong.
Let’s face it. In order to be professionally fulfilled, you must first know what you’re good at.
Knowing Yourself Contributes to Your Success
Self-awareness has a direct correlation with how we measure success and happiness. Highly successful people are incredibly self-aware; they know who they are and who they aren’t. Those at the top of their game have a clear understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Rather than exhaust all of their efforts on improving those weaknesses, they devote their time, talent, and energy on the things they love to do and do best. Then, they ignore (or at least delegate) the rest.
Our Education System Focuses on Our Flaws
The world today has us programmed to obsess over our flaws. In our pursuit of self-improvement, we tend to our many faults and weaknesses as part of our personal development. We improve for the sake of our health, relationships, self-image, etc. Although we can use what we learn from our personal development to be better professionals, personal and professional development are certainly different. In professional development, we should focus primarily on mastering our strengths. Cultivating expertise can stimulate excellence, confidence, and happiness in your career.
From grade school, we're taught that if you're bad at a subject, you should work extra hard at it, repeating dreaded subjects over again and developing a disdain for learning. Our education system determines intelligence based on comprehension of very general subjects that most people won’t even retain or use again in the future. Even though we're all entirely different, our academic excellence and future potential are measured by memorizing facts and taking standardized tests.
If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it's stupid.
As we progress through academia, we're eventually supposed to narrow our concentration to a particular field of study to help us navigate our career path. But how? If we're only taught broad and basic information and forced to prioritize the areas in which we perform unsatisfactorily, how could we possibly know what specific profession we want to pursue?
College students have a difficult time selecting a major, and many remain “undecided” until they're forced to settle on something. Moreover, many of us leave college with no real certainty of what we want to do. Even worse, we bury ourselves in debt only to end up in a job that isn’t even relevant to our degree. School is supposed to be a tool for us to develop our talents and interests, but not everyone finds it fruitful, and some rush from graduation into jobs that aren’t well suited for them.
Focus on Your Strengths To Guide Your Life
Non-conventional and highly successful entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck suggests that most of us are doing it all wrong.
“Stop doing sh*t you hate. Nail down your strengths so you can discover your passion.”
To double down on your strengths, Gary suggests taking these steps to discover (or re-discover) what your strengths actually are.
ASK THE PEOPLE CLOSEST TO YOU. Sit down individually with 5 to 10 people who really know you and love you. Create an environment for them to be honest with you and directly ask them what they think you’re really good at and what they think your weaknesses are.
ASK YOURSELF. What have your accomplishments been so far? What do you think are your natural talents? What skills do you know you possess? (Even if you’re not passionate about them.) You might be able to apply them in ways you’ve never thought of before.
REFLECT. Take time to re-evaluate praise and criticism you’ve received in the past. Refer back to emails, employment reviews, text messages, or even cards. What have you consistently been told you need to improve on? What are you habitually thanked and regarded for?
ASK STRANGERS. Find ways to ask strangers similar questions; what do people like about you? Reaching out to people who don’t know you very well might give you the best perspective on talents you naturally portray. Or they might just give you some insight on how you're perceived.
Gary gives very actionable advice that you can use to become more self-aware, find out what you enjoy, and what you’re good at.
Don’t waste time making marginal improvements on your weaknesses. If you're not organized, hire a personal assistant. If you aren’t creative, find someone around you who is, and let them be creative. Or if you’re just stuck in a job you hate, it's time to make a career move. Become a highly successful, fulfilled professional!