Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why We Should Focus on Our Strengths (Not Our Weaknesses) to Contribute

All my life I’ve been trying to change myself by focusing on my weakness. I have been constantly concerning myself with ways to improve my flaws for I believed it would help me achieve more.

For instance, I was pushing myself to learn sales. I’ve read several books on it and even did a part-time sales job. I knew I wasn’t good at Sales.

Photo Credit: KayVee.INC (Creative Commons)
I thought that it was a roadblock that has kept me from being more successful. I was of the impression that Sales is the one area where I needed to excel to develop myself fully. I thought it would improve my communication skills and my people skills.

Failing Strategy

But I realize recently that this is not a good use of my time. My potential to contribute, I now know, will be greatest when I focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses.

For example, I know that I am good at solving technical problems. I have done it successfully several times before and I know I can do it again. But in order to be really good at it, I need to continue cultivating this skill.

I need to continue to read and expose myself to the kind of technical know-how that would help me solve even more difficult problems.

It's What Successful People Do

If you think about it, great sports persons practice diligently to get better. They continue to work on their talents as if they were just starting out. They work on their strengths.

A runner wouldn’t waste his time developing his communications skills on top of honing his running abilities. He runs every day. He is consistently working to get better and better because he knows that is the only way to be really effective.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe there are some activities that merit our attention besides the stuff that we are good at.

But those shouldn’t be the focus. Those are secondary to what we need to do. The primary goal is to be better at what you’re good at. It’s not to improve your weakness.

Working With Others

When I think about this, I realize that it is also very important that I expose myself to the kind of experience that will enable me to practice. I need to own more problems and fix them. And if I can’t do it by myself, either I ask for help or I get better by acquiring the knowledge.

Solving difficult problems is usually a team effort though. As much as I would want to avoid it, I need to know how to lead groups of people or learn how to tap the knowledge and experience that others have.

I need to understand how other people think and feel so that they will be an asset to my efforts and not a hindrance. I may not be giving the bulk of my time on learning to deal with others but I do have to learn to be better at it.

Being Effective with People

I appreciate the fact that one cannot just impose his or her will on others. But that does not mean that I have to be passive when other people are involved. I cannot afford to be weak in an environment that values confidence. I need to act boldly although I cannot be perceived as arrogant.

If I am wise, I will be able to get my way without making enemies. That, of course, assumes that I have something in mind. It means I have a plan that I wanted to execute which I believed would be the best way forward. This plan may have been created by me or better yet by a team which includes all stakeholders.

I need to showcase my potential as a future leader in my field of expertise. That means being involved in a lot of stuff that I participate in. It means getting down to the details. Getting my hands dirty and knowing the ins and outs.

This seems to be a lot of work. I have the option to either be overwhelmed and not act at all or start now and get going. I want to choose the latter.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Introverts In Action - Perception is Different from Reality

When I was young, I remember people telling me that I should learn to speak up more often. I was just too quiet for a lot of them. Sure I got the occasional praise for being well-behaved. But mostly, I got admonitions to fix myself. My teachers would tell me to participate more. They like students who were loud and active. They have little appreciation for those quiet-type such as I was. I guess they figured the reason I was not speaking out is because I had nothing to contribute, which was not a good sign.
Abraham Lincoln was a successful introvert
So I can understand what my daughter must be feeling when people tell her the same thing. She tends to be shy around other people she doesn't know. She is quiet and well-behaved in school to the point of seeming passive. Her teachers are concerned a little bit about it so they involve us, her parents, to encourage her to be more active. But sometimes I feel as if this was the exact same thing that happened to me.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Deal with a Detached Passport Cover in the Philippines

I recently had the misfortune of having to deal with a detached passport cover. I thought it was no problem and didn't think I had to have it fixed. In fact, when I saw that the cover was detached, my first impulse was to fix it myself by stapling it back to place.
Detached Passport Cover
It was a stupid idea and I was glad I didn't have any stapler available when I had that urge to do it. It would have rendered my passport unusable right there and then.

The last page of the passport actually states that any unauthorized alteration, addition, etc. are strictly prohibited and would render the passport invalid. It was part of the "Important Reminders" that I never bothered to read.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Electric Vehicles Running on Philippine Roads Today

We all know electric is the future of transportation. It’s non-polluting and it’s a heck of a lot more efficient than the combustion engines we find in vehicles today. Both of these advantages means going electric is good for the environment, people’s health and energy independence.
Photo Credit: Roberto Verzo (Creative Commons)
The only challenge in moving to electric is the initial cost. It’s more expensive to build electric vehicles than it is to make gasoline cars. That’s because rechargeable batteries are expensive.

But that does not mean we should stop the adoption of electric vehicles on our streets. Because that’s the only way we’ll see progress with it. We need to try it out to make ourselves ready for it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Nudge Theory in Practice: A Gift of Vision for the Philippines

If there is one thing that I can wish for the Philippines, it would be the happiness of it’s people. But wishing happiness for everyone is easy. Making it a reality is a great challenge. Especially for someone like me who does not have the resources to make it happen.
Photo Credit: Gian Cayetano (Creative Commons)
How can I possibly make an entire country happy by myself? It’s an impossible task. Not helped that I am not an entertainer or that I do not have a lot of money.