During the summer, I read the book, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. In this book, Gladwell researches a number of events in history where a disadvantage was turned into an advantage. Gladwell uses the classic ‘David and Goliath’ story to illustrate his point that giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that give them strength are also the source of their weakness. It sounds illogical however; the old Sunday school story of the real life event of David meeting the giant Goliath in battle can help us a lot when faced with big challenges in our own lives.
David was a small shepherd boy, the youngest of his family and not highly regarded within his own home. David knew his strengths; he was small, quick, agile and very good with a slingshot. David understood Goliath’s strengths but more importantly his weakness. Goliath was large and very slow. He also had no armor or protection on his face. David had to avoid fighting Goliath at his game, hand-to-hand combat with shield, armor and spear. David had to change the game in order to kill him.
Was David comfortable with the challenge to meet Goliath in battle? Maybe or maybe not. I expect David was outside his comfort zone, his heart would beat faster, he would start to sweat and he may have shook a little. He would have been nervous; anyone would have been however, he had fought lions and wild animals before so this slow giant would not be a major challenge. The main point is that David started in his strength zone.
After reading this book, I then had a career discussion with my CIO. He has known me for many years and I have worked with him on many projects. His advice to me was ‘Stuart, stay in your strengths zone’. Sometimes our strengths are clear and known to us; sometimes it takes others to reaffirm them.
I later recalled hearing John Maxwell speaking in Orlando, Florida. John reminded his coaches to stay in their strengths zone. He said you might leave your comfort zone if you want to be challenged but NEVER leave your strengths zone -Not even God can help you there!
Here are some questions to help you identify your strength zone :-
- Do you love to work with People, Things or Processes?
- Where do you excel?
- Does this make you feel happy and fulfilled?
- What skills, qualities or experiences do you bring to your job?
- What moment of personal triumph do you remember and why?
- Do you wake up in the morning excited and cannot wait to get to work?
- What comes easy to you but is hard for others?
- Are you passionate about what you are doing day to day?
- When you get home in the evening and review your day, what gives you the most satisfaction?
- If you had enough money to live, would you continue in your job even if you were not paid?
Remember hard work is not a strength, in the current economy we all work hard. Your further education degree is not a strength; many of us have higher degrees! Information is not a strength, with social media and other social network tools information is freely available. Your knowledge is also not a strength or only for a little while, knowledge is soon out of date as the world continues to turn.
Your vision, passion, creative genius and your network are some of your strengths. With your unquenchable drive to succeed, this will be your advantage and will help you to beat the Goliaths you will meet along the way.
Making Steps and Leaving Footprints…