If you’re wondering why your Strengths (NOT your Weaknesses) make the most difference in your business, today’s guest blog post from Laura Foote of Laura Foote Photography will give you 3 ideas you should consider about how to thrive in your Strengths & excel in business (and life!). Laura is one of my absolute best friends, a co-leader at our annual conference, The Mastermind Retreat, and an expert in the StrengthsQuest inventory… which you may know from the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book. I invited her to share her expertise with you all after hearing her present multiple times on this topic, and being WOWed every time! Hope you enjoy!
And be sure to check out a recent collaboration blog post we did on: How to Plan a Girl’s Business Retreat on a Budget!
A counter culture statement? Maybe not intellectually, but I think it’s safe to say we live in a world that still generally promotes doing a lot of things, starting at a very young age, and progressing to a very skilled level. From kiddos finding themselves in countless after school activities to adults trying to juggle multifaceted job responsibilities, families, “hobbies”—it’s easy to look around and see #allthethings we are doing. Does this relate to your life? Business?
When StrengthsQuest was in the early stages of inventory development, the Gallup Organization (it’s creator) knew they were proposing something fairly radical when this statement surfaced as core to their research. After 40 years & thousands of interviews, coding feedback from leaders and followers and hoping to understand leadership in a new way, it became wildly clear that we’d been wasting our time focusing on fixing our “pain points.” Whoa!
You see, the inventory they ended up creating boils down our gifts, talents, and abilities into 34 themes. While all of us carry each of the 34 themes within us, we naturally function, in kind of amazing ways, from our top 5— this is where the inventory focuses it’s energy!
For the purposes of chatting with you here, I’m going to give a few general ways to understand Strengths and how to live them out in life and business! But do know that if you’d like to purchase & complete your own inventory to get your top 5 results, you absolutely can learn more about that here (and I also do 1:1 remote/in person coaching and trainings to help you internalize it fully!)
(Edited to add a side note from Lauren: Laura is hands down incredible at this… highly highly recommend her StrengthsQuest coaching sessions – plus, you’ll love her as a person! Reach out on her website!)
Let’s look at these 3 main ideas:
-Natural talent x investment = a Strength
-For every Strength, there is a “shadow side” to be aware of
-The original point: weakness fixing will not ever lead to the results that are possible within Strengths building.
I want you to consider this equation in context of one element of your life/business.
________________ x time/training/resources etc. = _____________ .
If a Strength is defined as the ability to perform nearly perfectly every time, while also desiring to use that Strength (without being forced), then the argument is that successfully achieving this “equation” will lead to psychology “flow.” Flow is also known as “the zone”—that place where you lose track of time/place a bit in an activity you not only enjoy but do well! Examples might include editing photos, woodworking, talking to people.
Often when I’m teaching & training on StrengthsQuest this equation stumps people. “Laura… I’m not sure I have anything in my life that fits this?” And friends, we should all have something that does! So if you’re not sure, give it some attention and see if you can start. This equation doesn’t come to life without intentionality!
Example: Michael Phelps has an incredible physique that truly makes him perfect for the water. But, the training facilities, coaches, diet, and even swim goggles he has used for decades of practice are all contributors to taking a natural talent and making him an incredible, world record setting swimmer.
Talent doesn’t come without a trade off—I feel like we see this over and over again in celebrities who peak and then fall hard. Being really, really good at something not only comes with a lot of pressure and expectation from the outside world, but, from within us. Sometimes a talent is so great that the “dark” side of it feels like it’s taking control.
Take the “Responsibility” theme, for example. Lauren and I both have this in our top 5 and we both have had to learn to keep it under control. Our Responsibility strength allows us to get the job done, do it to the best of our ability, go above and beyond, etc. BUT it can also cause us to get things done at our own detriment, create expectations that aren’t real, and struggle to feel “enough” in our work and relationships. It’s yucky, exhausting, and lonely when it rears its head. But really beautiful when it is in line and gets to partner up with our other Strengths—which is what we want!
The thing I admire most about entrepreneurs is they are DOERS. And not just of their craft… of ALL the things. Because that’s what it takes! Some days I’m traveling, others I’m teaching. Some I’m shooting, others I’m trying to figure out tax stuff #ugh. It takes a lot of grit and gusto to run a business and stick with it. But, do not let that confuse you into thinking that a successful life and business includes being all things to all people all the time.
Enter: Outsourcing. (just one way to think about this!)
As you look at #1 and figure out your equations for where to put your time and energy, what doesn’t fit that needs to get done? Here’s an example in my business:
My Strategic strength means I love details, organization, planning etc. In my business, this has translated into me desiring to fully manage my finances. I love Quickbooks, Turbo Tax, my savings account program—all the things! But. It’s gotten to be a lot. And a distraction from the real work I love. So this year I’ve been working with a bookkeeper and an accountant to share the load. I won’t ever have the skills and knowledge they have, so trying to do it all for my business is really not the best use of my time and energy! And, I get to invest in and bless other business owners in the process- win win!
For more resources on Strengths, check out the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book (which also comes with a code to complete the assessment!). And if you already have your top 5 and want to dive a little deeper, give the 4 domains a read.
Here’s to living out of our talents, and not out of what we think we “should” be doing! Cheering you on, friend!
Laura Foote is a branding + lifestyle photographer, coach, and educator based in Tampa, Florida. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Instruction and is a former University faculty member and StrengthsQuest™ certified educator. She lives outside of Downtown Tampa with her 15 month old daughter, McCartney, theater educator sweetheart, J, next door neighbors turned second daughters, G & A, and two funny rescue dogs. Any day that ends with good food, red wine, and conversations that go 10,000 feet deep are the best in her book!