It wasn’t until I learned about the rather revolutionary concept of strengths that I could finally understand what great teaching looked like, for both me and all the other teachers that had such a big impact on students.
- Only some behaviors can be learned. The conventional approach seems to think greatness can be taught. We know to be truly world-class at something, it takes an element of innate talent. Skills and knowledge can be learned, but is no substitute for the potential at hand when we embrace natural patterns of behavior. Which behavior should you stop trying to learn or perform? Or which behavior should you perhaps find a complementary partner to help offer support?
- The best in any given role deliver the same outcomes using different behaviors. If all it took to be world-class in a role was to follow the same steps as a previous champion, wouldn’t we all be winning gold medals and starting successful business ventures? Instead of assuming the best performers all get there by following the same steps, start by identifying the expected outcomes. I bet you’ll find that the individuals who meet and exceed those outcomes get there in very different ways, based on their own unique blend of talents. Allow yourself some autonomy in finding your best path forward. Can you write down your unique strengths-based approach to a given task or challenge that is successful and empowering?
- Fixing weaknesses prevents failure, but building on strengths leads to success. Investing in your weaknesses will likely help you improve. But if all your energy is dedicated to fixing what is wrong, you should expect that improvement to peak at or around a mediocre level. Embracing what you do well and challenging yourself to do it even better leads to the kind of success legends are made of. You’ll get more out of what’s right than you ever will from what’s wrong. What percentage of your time do you spend working on your weaknesses vs. your strengths?
So, if we know that teachers made the most difference on us when they allowed us to soar with our strengths, it makes sense that they first started their roles not with their ideal perception of what a great teacher looks like, but with the authentic greatness they uniquely bring to the job. When you know your own strengths and allow them to soar, you encourage others to do the same. Imagine the difference we make in the world, from the classroom to the boardroom, when we ensure that every person, every day, learns and grows and understands the powerful potential that lies within.