A Strategic Rethink – Focus on strengths, weaknesses or learn from failure?

We can only survive through constant rethinking & reinvention! Charles Darwin once wrote “It’s not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change“. My response to the subject at hand (focusing on strengths , weaknesses or learn from failure) is that we should play to our strengths whenever possible whilst learning from our challenges and failures, which are not always our weaknesses.

Does that make sense? That we can still fail at something we are strong at?

There is scientific proof that we “absorb” more from success than from failure. The key word being “absorb”, or rather that the brain will automatically learn from success and we need not dwell on that, but rather pay more attention to the failures and challenges of why we failed if we want to continue to develop and grow (live). Earl Miller, the lead researcher on a study published last summer says this means that on a neurological level, success is actually a lot more informative than failure. If you get a reward, the brain remembers what it did right. But with failure (unless there is a clear negative consequence, like the shock a child feels when she sticks something in an electrical outlet), the brain isn’t sure what to store, so it doesn’t change at all.

OK.. so the brain “remembers” success but it won’t remember failure unless it’s significant, but we also know that a lot of little failure can add up to a lot of pain!

In essence, this would dictate that learning from experience requires knowing whether a past action resulted in a desired outcome. How often do you look back on your day & judge it a success or failure based on how much of your desired outcome was achieved? If you don’t set-out in the morning with this practice, then how can you evaluate at the end of a day if you were merely busy or significantly moving forward with your life’s plan?

Do you want to wake up one day feeling like you’ve stuck something in an electrical outlet and get the shock of your life? How about we just pay closer attention to the early warning signs through our challenges and avoid the future pain of significant failure all-together?

When I read Markus Buckingham’s Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance, I understood how you’ve got to work toward your strengths in order to have outstanding performance. Which in essence means that you have to be able to distinguish your strengths from your weaknesses & set yourself up for success by doing more of the things that you’re good at. That’s all good & well, however, if you want to adapt, learn & grow then that will require staying outside of your comfort zone exploring challenges whilst learning from challenges & failure so as to not repeat those less effective patterns.

By understanding the “why” of your failure you will in turn better acquaint yourself with your areas of strength.

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