Focus on Your Strengths as You Write

Every so often, it feels appropriate to talk about my experience as a consultant and how that might apply to writing.

Today, I’d like to share an idea that I first heard 6 years ago, when I was working for a non-profit that was part of the National Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  I was taking a class on executive coaching from a woman who had successfully coached hundreds of CEOs to become more innovative and profitable.

She surprised me by teaching us that manufacturing was suffering in America because its leaders focused too much on eliminating weaknesses and not enough on expanding strengths.  Focusing on weaknesses was leading manufacturers to become commodity creators and driving down costs.  A business that focused on expanding its unique strengths stood a much better chance at being innovative and more successful.  Think Apple and Steve Jobs!  Ever since that time, I’ve wondered about coaches who focus so much on weaknesses.

This same idea applies to any of us who wants to write for a living or as a passion.

This idea of knowing our strengths came up again in a recent Shero class where Jen Louden asked us to get 10 people to tell us our strengths.   I asked several people to do this for me, and got some unexpected answers like: you have a flair for fashion and you like shoes.  I hadn’t thought of my love of fun shoes as a strength! However, the best strength was this one by my ex-husband.  Yes, I asked him!  I’m one of those weird people who is better friends with my ex now that we’re not married.  Here’s what he shared:

Since they were young, I've taught my boys to enjoy trees too!

You also have the ability to see the bigger picture.  Some would call it “vision”.  Not all people have that gift.  I have some of that but I’m very task oriented.  I get the crap done, but you see what needs to be done – in a grand style.  This is also your downfall. You see the forest in spite of the trees because you climb atop of the trees to see the forest.  Every now and then you fall from the top of a tree.

Yet, the funny thing was that as I’ve been writing my novel, I have scenes scattered throughout my book where the main characters sit at the top of trees.  And of course, sometimes they fall from them!  Art does imitate life.

So, how does this apply to you?

This next week or so, find some people to tell you what is great about you and your writing.  Then, for the rest of your life focus on getting better at those things.  The weaknesses you’ll always have, and you’ll find a way around them.

To paraphrase ancient Greek wisdom, “Know Thy Strengths!”

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