Should you be yourself or strive to improve?
This paradox blankets the self-help world. On one side, there is advice to stay as you are and let people like you for that. The other wants you to change yourself for the better.
Which one is right? Like the question itself, the answer is also paradoxical. You have to do both. You can be yourself by only cultivating your strengths and being okay with your weaknesses.
But, we live in a society that doesn’t let us be okay. It constantly reminds us of the traits we lack. It makes us pursue the next ideal person while our strengths are neglected. They are ignored until we think, we only have weaknesses.
But the fact is that every person has a set of both. To be your best self, you need to take the time to cultivate your natural abilities.
1. Neglect Your Weakness.
We want to improve on the stuff we are bad at. Right now, all your self-improvement goals probably revolve around the areas you can’t perform in.
This irrational fixation happens because of two reasons. Research shows that people believe their weaknesses are more changeable than their strengths. However, this belief is false. In reality, you make massive improvements in your life when you focus on your strengths.
Another reason — In your mind, your weaknesses are defining you. You always think in terms of “I am not this enough.” It feels like people will criticise you for all the areas you can’t perform in. But the truth is, once you excel in something, people ignore all other areas of your life. Trust me, nobody thinks that Newton should have been more extroverted.
This doesn’t mean you can’t work on the weak traits. You can at some point balance them out. But that’s not where you should start. Your start should always be your strengths.
2. Know Your Strengths: Take a Personality Test
When I say strengths, for most people nothing will come to mind. That’s okay, we aren’t trained to think along that line.
That can change, with a simple personality test. The best personality test is the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire. If you google it, you can find many sources that will allow you to take it for free.
Once you complete it, you will get a four-letter combination of your natural traits. I myself am an ENFJ — Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeler and Judger.
Now that I look at my life, all of my success is built upon these four. Extroversion makes me good at making videos and public speaking. The Feeling trait helps me connect with my coaching clients. Organizational skills help me think in terms of structure in business.
Similarly, you can build a life upon your special four. In my case, these strengths are developed. But remember, your strengths will be raw and take time. Don’t compare your chapter one with someone’s chapter fifty-seven.
3. Pick One Skill: Practice a Skill Around it
The quickest way to fail at this is to work on all of your four-traits at once. You can only build one trait at a time.
Pick a trait + tangible skill around it. For example, if the trait is Intuitive (N), the skill can be something creative like drawing, music or writing. However, an easy hack to skip this is to google your personality type for its skills. Example: “skills for ENFJ” and you have some suggestions.
You can pick the tangible skill that can help you in one life area. Most people pick one that helps their career. Once you have done that, you only need daily practice. Psychologists say the best way to get better at anything is to practice.
Being an ENFJ, I started with extroversion. My tangible skill was public speaking. The daily activity was to make a youtube-video every day. During my first year on youtube, I posted daily. After 6-years of making videos, public speaking has become natural to me.
Plus, if you get good enough at your skill, you will be able to enter into deep-states of flow. You will lose track of time and your performance will be enhanced.
When you reach this stage, your weakness won’t matter.
Most people will live and die without ever unlocking their full potential. They will live under the guilt of their weaknesses which makes them think they are good for nothing.
But it doesn't have to be that way. We all have immense potential and possibilities within us. Your strengths are always there, waiting to be developed.
Once you begin to develop them, your life will become meaningful because you are doing what you are meant to do. You must give-up the self-hate for the areas you can’t perform in. Let your strengths define who you are.
Don’t think. Don’t do. Be, what you are good at.
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