Using Your Best to Make You Better

Robert Biswar-Deiner (a psychologist, author and all round guru in positive coaching!), talks about how, in our everyday we look for the best in people. As kids we looked for the most athletic people to be on our team, we choose our friends and our partners because of what we like about them, not their faults or how they annoy us. In the work place we do the same. We recruit those that have the best skills, talents or attributes, to suit our needs. It makes sense! So why then, when we manage our employees or our kids, we focus on what they CAN'T do? We are always wanting them to improve in the areas that they are not so good at. Parents go straight for the negatives in the school report. As managers we look at the areas people need to improve on rather than work on their strengths. We don't immediately understand the power of strengths and how focussing on someone's 'best', can make them even better.

As a coach, focussing on a clients strengths is a powerful tool in identifying what motivates them, what energises them and on how they can deal with their challenges. Strength spotting supports the idea that you can use your strengths to deal with that which challenges you. An example of that is when you are less than gifted in the area of numbers (yes ok, I'm talking about me!), you can use your strengths to overcome that challenge of monetary issues by using your organisation or details strengths. Calling on your skills in organisation can help you cope with your 'failings' in numbers. Being organised means I have time and resources to get around the issues of budgeting.  And I should know, it's the only way I can do it! Though I'm also good at delegating - that works too!

Biswar-Diener explains the power of strengths through the analogy of a sailing boat. If you were a sailing boat, and you had a small leak (the leak is your weakness), you certainly can't ignore it and fixing it is important, however, fixing the leak won't get you where you need to go.  Your sails (your strengths) will power you along to get you to your destination. The better you use your strengths, the more effective your boat. If you focus on building better sails (strengths) the  more powerful you become as a sail boat!


“I believe that living out loud and not letting fear hold you back is the key to the fullest, most rewarding life possible.” - Robert Biswas-Diener

The Corporate Leadership Council (2002) found that emphasising employee strengths in performance reviews increased performance by 36.4%. If that doesn't encourage you to explore and build on yours & others’ strengths, nothing will!  And let’s face it, who isn’t motivated by focussing on what you’re good at?

There are a plethora of assessments, theories and tools to work out your strengths and then to find strategies to use those strengths to best effect. These are the things that can help you become happier, more productive and to flourish. If you would like some help to find those tools and discover some strategies, please come and see me. I would love to help! I can work with individuals or with your teams.

Jo Opie