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Illustration of key to success

Looking back, consider how much time has been wasted on projects or tasks where you simply did not excel. Although the desire for constant improvement is an admirable one, it should take second place to a more noble business cause, which is to focus time, energy, and resources on areas where you are strong and can demonstrate achievement and success.

When new customers and clients come in to The Institute with a grand plan or vision for business success, a few of the questions they are asked include: Do you have a business plan? Is there a market for the products or services you offer? And finally, ‘What do you do well?’ The last question in that series is the one that makes all the others make sense. Why? No matter how thorough or detailed the business plan may be, or how viable the market is for a particular opportunity, if the business owner isn’t good at what he or she does, it creates an additional—often insurmountable—hurdle to overcome. Instead, entrepreneurs should leverage opportunities where they have already demonstrated success, and follow advice shared by business coach Gary Lockwood from an excerpt on his website titled Play to Your Strengths:

Highly successful entrepreneurs, as well as top scientists, artists, athletes and entertainers throughout history have achieved greatness by focusing on their areas of strength. Everyone has a natural aptitude in something. We all have a special 'gift'. You may be especially good at working with numbers, drawing pictures, teaching children, growing plants or caring for those less fortunate than you. Your special talent may involve music, athletic ability, empathy, writing, or working with your hands.

How do you discover your natural talents? First, write down a list of those things that you do that seem easy for you. These are the things that you can do that seem almost effortless. Often, the tasks that are easy for us are those where we have a special aptitude. Next, make a list of those things you do where time just seems to fly by. When you are doing these activities, you may look up and realize that several hours have passed without you even realizing it. This is a good clue to activities where you have natural talent. Finally, write all the activities that make you happy. These are things that make you smile. These are the tasks you would do just for yourself, with no promise of gain, just because they're fun, interesting and fulfilling.

Look through the three lists to find the common activities. These are likely to be the areas of your natural aptitude and talent. These are the areas of greatest potential for you. Don't get caught up in the old advice to work on your weaknesses. Hire someone who is good where you are weak. Delegate tasks that you don't enjoy to others who do enjoy those things. Automate the repetitious tasks. Contract out the chores that you are not great at doing.

No matter how hard you try, it is unlikely you will ever be more than average in areas where you do not have an aptitude. Always working on your weaknesses undermines your self-esteem since you will focus mostly on your deficiencies.

On the other hand, working to develop your natural talents is self-rewarding and motivating, allowing you to continually realize higher and higher levels of ability, achievement and success. Invest your time and energy in being great at something. Really great. You will be happier. And the recipients of your work, your customers will reward you for your excellence. What a combination; doing what you love and people pay you for it!
Focus on your strengths. Experience the immense satisfaction that comes with being superb at something. For more information on how you can play to your strengths and develop a successful business, visit and learn more online at and connect on Twitter @TheInstituteNC.