Dave Crenshaw is a master of taking a minus and turning it into a plus. The best-selling productivity and leadership author not only has benefitted himself but has shown others that limits to success are all in your mind.
“I was diagnosed as ‘off the charts’ with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” he said. “This means that, while it’s nearly impossible for me to focus on some things, I hyperfocus on others. I chose to create a ‘valuable obsession’ for that hyperfocus.”
One such focus has been his “Discovering Your Strength” course, which was named №1 most popular course on LinkedIn in 2020.
“It’s a bit meta,” Crenshaw said. “My ‘valuable obsession’ was to help others find their unique path to success — their valuable obsessions. My course on LinkedIn Learning is where I share that process.”
He discussed the finer points of strength discovery with Chelsea Krost, a millennial expert, global speaker and marketing and branding strategist, on her #MillennialTalk Twitter chat.
“Your strengths are what make you truly and uniquely great,” Crenshaw said. “By knowing and focusing on your strengths, you create an ‘organic’ foundation for personal branding.
“Your strengths determine your content, services and message,” he said. “As you focus on them consistently, you become the expert on the subject. Rather than pretending to be something you are not, become the very best version of who you already are. This adds authenticity to your branding.”
Expand your boundaries
That encompasses your full picture online and off.
“You are your personal brand: your strengths, your weaknesses, your experience, your success, your failure, your authentic you,” Krost said.
“I am always a believer in pushing your boundaries and expanding your skillset,” she said. “Leaning into your strengths will only empower you to grow more naturally and organically instead of constantly fighting against what comes naturally to you. Don’t resist what’s natural.”
Having this ability early in your career can pay big dividends years later as long as you keep things in perspective.
“Chasing money doesn’t lead to long-term success,” Crenshaw said. “It’s not sustainable because it leads to burnout. A strengths-based career is both energizing and long lasting.
“When you feel like you were ‘born’ to do what you do, that’s when the greatest success and fulfillment occurs,” he said. “Most people aren’t strategic about their career choices. Rather than drifting from job to job, move from strength to strength.”
His recipe for discovering a strength is gifts plus loves plus skills.
“This means a strength is a combination of three things: your natural gifts, your learned skills and your loves or passions,” Crenshaw said. “When gifts plus loves plus skills are connected, you find strengths that are not only fulfilling, but also lucrative.
“I find that the combination of particular strengths can be unique to each person — like a fingerprint,” he said.
That helps people stand out as they pursue their goals.
“People might have similar strengths, but we will always have an individually unique approach due to our makeup and experiences,” Krost said.
“We tend to be the hardest on ourselves,” she said. “We put more focus on what we aren’t good at and haven’t done rather than what we excel at and have already accomplished. We all have value to share, but sometimes we get in our own way.”
Crenshaw wants people to reverse those mindsets.
“It’s natural, as humans, to focus on our weaknesses,” he said. “We’re wired to fix what is broken. That’s sometimes valuable, but often it leads to distraction and wasted time. By exploring your strengths, you shift your thinking toward what you do best and how to use it for success.
“Avoid your weaknesses,” Crenshaw said. “Spend as little time as possible on them. Instead, maximize the amount of time you spend on your strengths. I actively avoid weaknesses by hiring people who have strengths where I have weaknesses. The best example is when hiring editors for my writing.”
Krost and Crenshaw went on to talk about finding your gifts, long-distance mentoring and overcoming failure during the rest of their discussion.