This post is part 4 of the #YourTurnChallenge based on Seth Godin’s book What to Do When It’s Your Turn
Before we get too far into today’s post, I want to wish my beautiful wife a happy 12th anniversary – thank you for a dozen awesome years, here’s to many more! I love you.
Have you ever been in a class where a teacher or speaker is obviously very knowledgeable, but you have no idea what their point is?
Do you have a friend or a coworker that quickly understands complex ideas, but has no idea how to explain them to others?
What about the opposite? Do you know someone who is able to reword things in a way that makes you ask “why didn’t they just say that to begin with?”
Being a successful communicator or teacher requires being a successful translator.
Just like translating from one language to another, if you choose the wrong vocabulary or approach – the message will be lost. Analogy, metaphor, allegory and illustration are all ways that concepts can be shared and understood.
I just happen to use video games as a connecting point to teach leadership and business skills.
Lost In Translation
I have spent much of my career translating.
- Translating messages from senior leadership to employees.
- Translating “why” a change is being made, not just “how.”
- Translating how content about leadership and management translate to actions in the workplace.
- Translating how the traits and habits that lead to success in video games can lead to success in business and life.
One thing that I am really good at is teaching others in a style that helps to connect ideas and understanding in a way that is practical. When I design classes, I specifically create content that is both pragmatic and didactic. It’s nice to know something, but it is ever better to know what to do with it.
Simplicity creates focus.
Abraham Maslow said “When the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” I know when I pick up the bombs in any Legend of Zelda game, I see every cracked wall as a potential doorway.
But that’s just me.
What To Do With Strengths/Weaknesses
Many studies have reported that individuals fear public speaking, sometimes more than death. I am not one of those people. I enjoy the opportunity to lead a group in learning or sharing ideas that fascinate me.
We all have different strengths, and it is important that we put those strengths to use.
In Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton make a compelling to leverage our strengths over improving in our own areas of weaknesses:
“Our research into human strengths does not support the extreme, and extremely misleading, assertion that ‘you can play any role you set your mind to,’ but it does lead us to this truth: Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents most of the time.”
Said another way, we spend far too much time on dealing with our weaknesses and trying to improve, when we are better off recognizing our strengths and working to make the most of them.
The Key To Using Strength Is First Knowing Where It Lies
It only makes sense that we must understand how we are strong before we can use our strength to its full potential. Maybe you already know where you are strong.
But do you know what to do to develop that strength?
I’m a big fan of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment that can be found online and via access code in new copies of the book. This assessment takes an in-depth look at your areas of strength, and then offers actionable steps to grow what you do best.
Here are my top 5 Strengths:
People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
People strong in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
People strong in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.
People strong in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.
People strong in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.
When you look at the above list, teaching life & leadership lessons from video games seems to be a natural fit, don’t you think?
Now Get To Work
A great lesson for using strengths can be found in just about every fighting game. Head to head fighting games gained significant popularity during the 1990’s with games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Each player select a character and faces off in a best of three match. Street Fighter II set the tone for many future games with a wide range of different characters, each with their own strength and weaknesses.
Street Fighter II was filled with stereotypes: balanced martial artists (Ryu, Ken), fast moving characters that took more damage (Chun Li, Vega), slow moving powerhouses (E. Honda, Zangief), defensive/ counter attack styles (Guile, Blanka), and a floating yoga practitioner that can stretch his limbs across the screen(can’t they all?).
Successfully defeating your opponent requires a good understanding of your character’s own strengths. If you try using Chun Li the same was as you would use Zangief, you are going to lose a lot of matches.
In the same way, we all need to strive to be at our very best for a fulfilling and successful life. Don’t worry about being 100% in all skills, and don’t obsess over your weakness.
Instead focus on being the very best version of yourself that you can be.