Perhaps the flaw is in how I interpreted it. Throughout school, the focus always seemed to be on my weaknesses. Subjects that we were good at were given minimal attention, while the ones we weren’t as strong on was where the focus was. To become balanced and progress, we were encouraged to improve our strengths.

Perhaps that makes sense for school, when you study a broad range of subjects, and need to pass all of them to make it out of those classrooms and, if that is in your destiny, into the lecture rooms of tertiary.

Years ago, I heard Marcus Buckingham speak at an event for one of my former employers and the proverbial penny dropped. The gist of Buckingham’s talk and the focus of his work can probably be summed up in: “Invest in your strengths. You will grow the most in areas where you are already strong.”

On his site, he explains that a strength is “not something that you’re good at, just like a weakness isn’t something that you’re bad at. A strength is an activity that strengthens you. That you look forward to doing. It’s an activity that leaves you feeling energised, rather than depleted. We all have things that we’re good at, but that we hate doing, right? Those are called weaknesses.”

It is worth exploring the complete Invest In Your Strengths idea.

He goes on to say that “your strengths are more about appetite than ability.”

While it resonates, I have chosen to look at it from a simplistic perspective, in relation to what I am good at. I do have the liberty of being able to pick and choose what I involve myself in, so I rarely work on things that I hate, even if I wouldn’t be so as to say that everything I work on leaves me “feeling energised”. I don’t need that from everything that I work on. Sometimes, it is a means to an end; an end tied to the life that I am building.

Anyway, I found that once you transition from the world of ‘passing exams’ to actually working, people are looking for your strengths in terms of what you purport to be good at. In thee few moments I have sat in interviews, I have shared the things that I consider myself good at AND wouldn’t mind doing, leaving out what I am good at, but don’t want to actually do.

Now, as a ‘professional jack of all trades’, it does feel a little weird saying this but, most times, I figure putting the attention into being better at what you are good at rather than looking at your weaknesses and trying to bring them up from bad to mediocre. It does need honestly with oneself and measured reflection to determine what those strengths are or, at a minimum, where your potential lies. In learning new things, it makes sense to learn in areas where there is potential. I know that, no matter what I do and no matter how much work I put into the craft, the chances of my succeeding as an actor are slim to none … trust me, I tried it enough to know this.

“Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield. The time you spend with your best is, quite simply, your most productive time.”

Marcus Buckingham

Taking this to heart, I try to focus on the craft of storytelling, with an emphasis on writing, and the different platforms and mediums available to me. It does involve being deliberate about it and constantly reflecting on and modifying my plan.

What are your strengths and what are you doing to build on those?

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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