Play to Your Strengths and Win!

I once believed, as most people do, that the best way to increase our results was to improve our weaknesses. My life’s work as a motivational speaker and tennis coach has taught me the opposite is true. You play to win by playing to your strengths.

Without question, you greatly increase your chances of winning when you leverage your strengths, while you decrease your chances of success when you merely avoid your weaknesses.

If we spend our energy using and improving our strengths, we achieve better results and feel more positive about our potential. When we are involved in an activity utilizing our strengths, it feels natural, and we win more often.

In my presentations, I say, “Everyone has handicaps. Some you can see; some you can’t.” My point is we all have weaknesses. It’s universal. I define a weakness as an inherent limitation of capability that, despite our best effort to change it, will improve very little.

Find your strengths to reduce discouragement

It isn’t necessary to ask whether you have strengths. Just like weaknesses, everyone has them. The better question is, “What are my strengths?” As you answer, try to be as specific as possible. People who are crystal clear on their gifts have the best chance of turning them into a superpower.

One barrier to identifying our strengths is overestimating our imperfections and underestimating our gifts. Remember: People who win do not necessarily have more strengths than others. Instead, they have learned to utilize their talents, skills, and knowledge consistently.
Why avoiding risk is not the answer

Bestselling author Brian Tracy says, “Place your mental focus on what you want at the exclusion of all else.”

What I have learned from high achievers is that they focus on achieving success versus avoiding failure.

People who play to not lose usually:

– are adverse to risk
– concentrate on staying safe
– focus on what might go wrong

On the other hand, people who play to win dream big and are comfortable taking chances. They focus intently on their desired positive outcome. In tennis terms, someone who plays to win focuses on hitting a winning shot. A person playing not to lose focuses on not missing the shot. On or off the tennis court, our level of success is often determined by what we dwell on.

By obsessing over our shortcomings and overlooking our strengths, our motivation suffers, and our mindset is pessimistic. These are characteristics of someone who avoids risk and plays not to lose.

Our chances of success increase when we focus on what we want to achieve instead of focusing on what we want to avoid.

When we focus on what we want to avoid, our thoughts and plans become framed by what we don’t want. Conversely, by identifying what we desire, we are able to imagine new possibilities, which then fuel our determination!

You don’t have to change who you are

You have everything you need right now to reach your potential. What likely needs to change, however, is your mindset, shifting your focus from weaknesses to strengths.

Playing to your strengths does not mean forgetting about your weaknesses. Rather, it is a matter of managing them. If your weaknesses are limiting your potential, work on those areas until you reach a level that’s acceptable. Most often that will be good enough. Remember, no one is exceptional in everything, but all of us are exceptional in something.

I am passionate about the subject of playing to your strengths because I have seen the impact this mindset has had in my own life. When I was preoccupied with my disability, the possibilities were invisible. Changing what I focused on changed the direction of my life.

When you decide not to let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do, here is the result: You play to your strengths and unlock your greatest potential.

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