Personal Strengths

There are two ways of getting something. Doing it yourself, and getting someone else to do it for you. So what happens when someone else is clearly far better at doing something than you.

This is why your strengths are important, becuase 99% of the time its much better just to do what you’re best at. You get more done, you can sell more and make more profit. Awesome.

What this also means is don’t just start any business because its painless. Anyone can clean houses and wash cars. That's easy. That’s why the rates are so low. Instead of thinking “what’s the easiest thing I can do”, think “what is it that I’m best at?” Learn to leverage your strengths, and win.

Here's Seth Godin on The Mindset of a Winner

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Real Strengths = Business Advantages

And business advantages mean more profit, less work and a better chance of fulfilling your vision. Do what you’re good at.

It’s like getting married...

If your still in your teens, its okay if you’re not married yet (hehe) but run with this idea. Which one of these do you think is more natural, more likely and has a better chance of success?

  1. Decide to get married first - scout for partner, propose
  2. Find a partner, build a relationship. Idea of marriage comes across, and its a good idea. So you do it, work hard and make it a long term success.

I hope and pray you chose the second one. You’re not desperate, are you?

Just like a marriage, with business its a really, really bad idea to play “just to take part”. Play to win, or don’t play at all. Because when you invest as much time and money you need to get a business, even a part-time business, you need to be committed to succeeding.

Why commit yourself to an ongoing struggle rather than something that’s comparably easier and way more fun?

So here comes a nasty, un-nerving question. Here goes...

What Are You The Best in the World At?

As Seth Godin points out in his book, ‘The Dip’, being the best in the world is seriously under-rated. It’s a serious question. What are you the best in the world at? Anything? Because in the world of Google and the rest of the internet which can index and rank you with billions of competitors in fractions of a second, boy does being #1 matter! Who chooses "the B team"...?

If you want a job, you have to be the best person for the employer at that time. You have to be the best in the world. Just like when you sell something - you are the best provider for your customer. You’re the best in the world. That front page story is the best story of the day.

But quickly, you need to know...

Good Grades Don't Make You Awesome

School aren’t about making you the best in the world. They’re about making whole classes of good grades. That's their purpose. So even with your flawless set of grades, you’re in a class of flawless - in other words you’re average. Good, but average. One of the ugly ironies of the school system...

*Gulp*. I’ve got nothing.

Before you start feeling ashamed from your lack of Olympic Gold medals and nobel peace prizes, let’s work out what “the world” is.

“The world” is your world. Not our home planet, but the world in which you live in. The places you go, the people you see and your circles of influence. Are you the best at something at school? Or within your friendship group? Maybe you compete at something locally, or elsewhere?

There are some exceptions to this though:

  1. I’m awesome, but other people might be awesomer...?

    If they’re not on your radar, they’re not competition. Just like in Sun Tzu’s Art of War you must always respect your opponents, but if they’re not showing up, they're not competition.

  2. I’m still young. What if I just focus on getting good at something?

    It takes time and effort. You’ll encounter the resistance and have to fight through it. It’ll be hard work, and most people won’t make it. But yes, its possible. And you just might make it if you work out how to get good at getting good.

  3. What happens if I change the game so it plays to my strengths?

    Like using your creative design skills in a grey, dead-end industry? That’s perfect! That’s how companies like Apple and Google enter and transform markets. It seems to work!

Strengths = Talents + Experience + Education + Skills

It’s like sport at school.

Like you probably, my school offers a choice of sports from an early age. What happens is people choose the sport they like, they spend year after year of games sessions playing, practicing and learning the sport. The result is groups of people playing sports to an advanced level, and loving it!

They’re playing to their strengths (literally) - they’re playing the sport they prefer. In the position they’re best at. Every week. Strengths are built through talents, experience, education and skills.

What Is Talent?

Malcomn Gladwell wrote a book on talent. It’s called ‘Outliers’ and its basically about finding out about what makes the exceptional cases in the world. Its fascinating. Go read it.

What he essentially uncovers though is talent comes from hours of practice, and lucky opportunities. Here’s a great video summary:

Think of gaming. Studies show that teenage gamers are getting almost as much gaming time in as they are schoolwork, meaning most gamers are “talented” by the time they graduate. The hours of practice, plus the luck of having a console (or gaming PC) makes you talented.

  • What Are You Good At?
  • What Do You Have Experience In?
  • What Have You Learnt About?
  • What Are You Skilled At?

Its difficult in your teens, since you’re not necessarily old enough or had the opportunity to try lots of different things out and work out what you’re amazing at. Some teens will have a whole portfolio of different skills, whilst others won’t have accumulated so much yet.

Either way, you’re not thirty-something. You needn’t worry! That’s what this site is all about - building those personal strengths. By the time you are 30, and have netted years and years of actual business experience under your belt, imagine how far ahead of the rest of the pack you’ll be. Being young now can actually help...

Embrace Your Limitations

Limitations make things hard. You have to choose, make tough decisions and try really hard to make a profit. Those kind of practices put you miles ahead of anyone else. Listen to this talk about how a one-armed boy won a judo competition, by embracing his constraints...

Focus on Few Things, but kick-ass at them!

Jim Collins researched and wrote a book on "Good to Great". There are so many really important takeways, but one of his concepts he calls the fly-wheel. It takes a lot of effort over a long time, in one direction before something gains momentum.

Stick to doing one or two things frickin' well - master one or two strengths. Build momentum and go be the best in the world. Go be King.

The Strength of Your Plan B

You may be the best basketball player in the world; one trip or fall, one broken hand and you're nothing. What I think dictates peoples real strength - at the very highest level - is the strength of their plan B. What happens if it all goes wrong?

It helps to be self-competitive. If you're unsure whether you should do football or swimming in your afternoons, because you're good at both and find them a lot of fun, you're in by far the better position than the person who has to go swimming because they're not good at much else...

When it gets competitive, the strength of your Plan B is crucial. Besides, getting good at getting good at stuff is an extraordinarily useful habit ;)

Awesome Links and Further Reading

  1. Interactive Strengths-Finder Tool

    Take this with a pinch of salt, but it may still useful for confirming what you're already thinking. It's 50 questions where you agree or disagree with a statement about yourself like "I love to read daily". You then get an end score and some suggested strengths.

  2. Discover Your Strengths and Supercharge Your Business

    A fantastic article on CopyBlogger on why playing to your strengths 'energizes you' and how your customers will adore you for it.

  3. On Being the Best - Another perspective on why you need to be "be the best" in order to win with your startup business.

  4. The Dip [PDF]

    Here, Seth Godin briefly introduces some of the ideas in his book "The Dip" - all about when to quit and when to stick. Strategic quitting can be a really smart strategy; here's why...

Go to the Next Chapter: Finding Your Passion

Passion is the driving force behind your business, it'll keep you motivated and grow as you become more and more successful. Read about the benefits of your passion

Teen Business Strategy Guide | Previous: Your Vision | Next: Passion

Return from Personal Strengths to Your Teen Business

Go to the Next Chapter

  1. Your Vision
    Why dreaming big can have such a huge impact on your business, but how "getting real" is what will make your dream a reality.

  2. Personal Strengths
    How and why to build a business based on your personal strengths, why you should embrace your limitations and how to maximize your talents.

  3. Passion
    Passion is that unusual force that means you wake up in the morning; here, you'll learn why money doesn't equal passion, how to find your passion and what to do with it.

  4. Resources
    How to get all the people, the money, the kit and the training you need to make your business actually happen. Without this, you'll be forever frustrated.

  5. Business Mentors
    Having experienced experts guiding you through this whole "business" landscape is the single fastest-accelerator for your teen business. Discover the secrets to successful networking here.

  6. Masters of Marketing
    Marketing is the single most misunderstood part of everyday business. Here, get introduced to the Masters of Marketing who will really teach you how to win customers.

  7. Make It Happen!

    Its great having a strategy to this elaborate business of yours, but its another thing to actually make it happen. This is your guide to getting things done

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The ideas in this guide were inspired by lots of different books and videos, but none more so than Rework. Written by the guys at 37signals

Here's a quick summary by Jason Fried of what's in the book

It was also heavily influenced by Cameron Herold's TEDxTalk on Raising Kids to Be Entrepreneurs