We all strive for a life filled with meaning, satisfaction, and exceptional experiences. In this blog post, I’ll explore how to leverage your strengths to create an exceptional and satisfying life, following the advice from book, “Exceptional: Build Your Personal Highlight Reel and Unlock Your Potential,” by Dan Cable, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School.
💪 Leverage Your Strengths
If you want to transform yourself into your own version of exceptional and create a satisfying life, should you focus on fixing your shortcomings or finding ways to leverage your strengths?
In his book, “Exceptional: Build Your Personal Highlight Reel and Unlock Your Potential,” Daniel M. Cable, Ph.D., suggests focusing on your strengths. He believes that the key to creating real satisfaction with your life is to find ways to leverage your strengths.
When your supervisor lists all your great performances along with a few negative ones, which ones do you pay more attention to? You probably focus on the negative ones.
For some reason, we tend to concentrate on the negative rather than the positive. If you fix all your shortcomings, can you become exceptional? You might become average, but you can’t become exceptional.
“Prevention of failure rarely leads to excellence.”
If you have unlimited time on earth, you can try to fix all your shortcomings first and then focus on your strengths. But the reality is life is transient.
If you want to become your own version of exceptional while you still exist on this planet, you need to concentrate on your strengths.
Here are the three steps, derived from Cable’s book, to transform yourself into your own version of exceptional and create a satisfying life.
🌟 Step 1 to Exceptional: Create Your Highlight Reel
Everybody has strengths. But are you aware of them and confident that you’re using them to the maximum to make a difference in this world?
If you aren’t sure, how can you recognize your strengths?
Cable says that your own highlight reel can help reveal your strengths.
You probably have seen highlight reels of athletes that show their greatest moments. You might not be famous enough to have your highlight reel made for you by ESPN, but you can create your own highlight reel by putting together your most exceptional moments.
How do you collect your exceptional moments? The tool Cable recommends for this is a living eulogy.
I wrote more about the power of living eulogies in another post, “A Living Eulogy is the Best Gift to Someone Special.”
Think about specific memories you want people to talk about at your funeral. How are they going to describe them? Write your thoughts about the moments you’re at your best and create your own living eulogy.
You also want to collect highlights from other people to add to your reel.
To do that:
1️⃣ First, select people you know well. They can be your parents, siblings, spouse, friends, colleagues, or classmates.
2️⃣ Then, make notes of specific exceptional moments you remember about them. Think of times they used their strengths and made a positive impact on your life or somebody else’s life.
Your notes will serve as a model for what you request from them.
3️⃣ After you share your notes with them, ask them if they could share their memories of you as well.
Collecting memories from other people will help you not only confirm strengths you’re already aware of but also discover the strengths that you aren’t aware of.
🔍 Step 2 to Exceptional: Identify Your Core Strengths
Once you collect your highlights from yourself and others, analyze them. The purpose is to identify a few of your core strengths that you can leverage to be your own version of exceptional.
1️⃣ Make a list of common themes, key words, or phrases and identify a few core strengths.
You might be good at something, but if you don’t enjoy doing it, don’t include it. For example, you might be good with numbers, but if you’d rather not deal with them, don’t include that strength on the list.
2️⃣ Pick one strength to focus on first.
3️⃣ Then, generate concrete activities or projects that you can do to leverage that core strength. They can be both for your work and personal life.
For example, if you identify that you have unique perspectives, find new ways to share them in meetings, presentations, or blog articles.
You want activities and projects that can stretch you beyond your comfort zone. Unless you go beyond your comfort zone, you can’t reach your maximum potential.
🚀 Step 3 to Exceptional: Experiment
“Change and learning involve experimenting.”
Unless you experiment, you can’t learn and transform yourself.
Start incorporating the new activities and projects you’ve identified in Step 2 into your daily routine and test them out. The goal of your experiment is to find new ways to leverage your strengths to make the greatest impact on others.
Keep in mind when you start something new, you might feel awkward and clumsy. Don’t have a fixed mindset; instead, adopt a growth mindset. Embrace the awkwardness and clumsiness as signs of learning and growth. Just like when you learned to walk, bike, or swim, you can make progress with practice.
Don’t give up on your new behaviors too quickly. Try them for at least two months. During those two months, consistently incorporate the new behaviors into your daily life and take time to reflect on your progress daily.
Keep adding new behaviors and experimenting with them. The intentional behavioral changes will add up. Those changes can help you reach your own version of exceptional and create a more satisfying life.
🏁 Take Action Now: Start Your Journey Today
Begin collecting your best moments to create your highlight reel.
🤔 When did you feel that you used your strengths to the maximum to make the greatest impact on others?
🤔 Which activities made you feel like you were born to perform them?
Write them down and start working on your highlight reel.
Embrace the journey towards an exceptional and satisfying life!