Author: Allison Sutherland – NLP Coach & Therapist; for more info on Allison click here.
Could you imagine what it would be like if Andy Murray had chosen a career in public relations or David Beckham had decided to be a train driver? I’m sure they’d both have given it a good shot, but I’m not so sure Andy would be great at press releases or media conferences or that David would be happy in a solitary job like driving a train.
What these guys have done with their lives is play to their strengths. Andy Murray is talented, hard-working, dedicated and single minded about his sport (but not brilliant at interviews), whilst David Beckham is equally talented, hard-working and dedicated as well as being sociable and a great team player (and much better at interviews). I wonder what it would be like for those guys if they had chosen careers where those strengths weren’t required and I can only imagine how miserable they would probably feel.
Just like Andy and David, we all have strengths as well as weaknesses and it’s often easy to focus on the negatives and forget the positives. Do you know what your strengths are? I know that three of my top character strengths are kindness, honesty and gratitude so being a coach and NLP practitioner allows me to use those strengths to help my clients – and I’m grateful for that.
On the other hand, criminal law would have been a very poor career choice for me as I’d have been faced with people committing acts of cruelty and dishonesty which would have posed a challenge to my main strengths on a daily basis, just as David Beckham being stuck in a train cab for 8 hours a day would have challenged his strength as a team player.
Life is less satisfying when we have to live in ways that challenge our core strengths and values. For example, think of someone who is really creative and loves to let their imagination run riot – now imagine they have a career or a home life where everything has to be done in rigid routine and fixed processes. How miserable would that creative person be?
When you think about your day to day life, are there things that don’t quite seem right? What situations or people really “grate” on you? It could be that your core strengths or values are challenged by these situations or people and that’s why they make you uncomfortable, sad or even downright upset. So do you actually know what your strengths are? Think now about what makes you tick, what you enjoy doing, and how those things fit with character strengths like honesty, kindness, prudence, humour, love of learning, humility, perseverance, teamwork, creativity or zest for life.
Now imagine what life would be like if you could live it in ways that play to your strengths. Imagine how satisfying that would be. Often we fall into the trap of thinking that a job or a life situation is just the way it is and we can’t change it – that may be true about the job or the situation, but it isn’t true about us. If you’re able to identify your strengths, then you will be able to find ways to do the job or get through the situations by making use of those same strengths.
But life isn’t just all about what you’re best at – your weaknesses can also be great assets. If creativity is really low on your list of strengths you’re probably good at applying routines and processes. If teamwork is low on your list of strengths then you might just thrive in a job where you get to work on your own and shine on your own merit. Just by looking at it from a different perspective, your weaknesses can become strengths.
Looking back at Andy Murray and David Beckham, despite their very different sports and personalities, something they have in common is that they both have coaches. Their coaches have helped them to focus on their strengths and build up on their weaker areas until they’ve excelled in their chosen fields.
Coaching isn’t just for top athletes or top business leaders – it’s for anyone who wants to improve or change their current situation, or get better at what they do, and doesn’t quite know how. Whether it’s a career change, fitness, business or any other goal, a coach will help you to focus on what it is you want to achieve, your motives for wanting it, how you’re going to get there and what you’re going to do once you get it.
So, if you’ve taken a career as a train driver instead of a Premiership footballer, why not book a session with a coach and get started on playing to your strengths?
All the best,