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They say a good title for a book tells you up front what it is about. “Go Put Your Strengths To Work” by Marcus Buckingham is one such title. It’s all about an area which traditionally has been relatively less addressed as executives the world over have scrambled over each other, causing themselves and others great stress in the bargain, to overcome their “weaknesses.”

In the book, Buckingham lays down “six powerful steps to achieve outstanding performance.” The formats are simple  and easy to use, the explanations are lucid and the whole book is lightened with many figures and charts for your use on your journey to discover and celebrate your latent strengths. Apparently as far back as in 1966, management guru Peter Drucker wrote in his acclaimed “The Effective Executive” :”The effective executive builds on strengths- their own strengths, the strengths of superiors, colleagues, subordinates; and on the strengths of the situation.”

A few points that hit home to me:

  • “A person or an organization will excel only by amplifying strengths, never by simply fixing weaknesses,” writes Buckingham. I would imagine that it’s not one at the cost of the other. My take is that major weaknesses have to be fixed while we build on our strengths. I don’t think the book suggests that significant weaknesses need not be addressed.
  • A mere 17 % of the over two million people who took the Clifton StrengthsFinder answered “most of the time” when asked ‘ What percentage of a typical day do you spend playing to your strengths?” Most people seem therefore to be working far below their potential.
  • Buckingham tells us that “On high-performance teams, people say they call upon strengths more than 75 % of the time.”

The formats in the book are just what they are. They are tools to get you started but they can’t improve your life, if you don’t do anything about it. Any improvement calls for a certain amount of commitment and effort. The book suggests that those who have made such investments have gained from them. I do know that any behavioral change comes only through practice. Reading about it, is one thing. Making it work for you, is something else.

Set your mind to it, follow the steps and who knows, your new-found strengths could just take you places.

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