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Your Better Self with Akanna: What Should I Be Focused On?



Akanna OkekeLast week, I shared My Top 5 Strengths with you.  The book StrengthsFinder 2.0 helps you identify what you’re good at, and also educates you on how to capitalize on those strengths.

The general idea here is that you stop focusing on your weaknesses.  Many people spend an awful length of time worrying about their weaknesses and seeking out “Areas of Improvement” – especially at work.

Meanwhile, it would be more effective if we focused on our strengths – what we are naturally good at – and downplayed our weaknesses.  That way, we would be bringing our own uniqueness into the world, into our offices, into our teams; and learning to bring them all together to achieve more success, rather than keeping everyone on the same level by having them all work on their weaknesses so they can be at par and blend in with the rest.

So, I’ll refresh your memory with My Top 5 Strengths, write a brief description of each, and then let you in on some of the ways by which they can be harnessed for optimal performance.

If you have the same strengths as mine, then I guess you’re lucky.  You can just take these suggestions as yours too and run with them!  If you don’t have, however, then just go ahead and get the book.  You’ll discover all the 34 themes of CliftonStrengths and you’ll get to take an assessment that will help you to identify your top 5 strengths as well.

Mine are: MAXIMIZER, INTELLECTION, RESPONSIBILITY, EMPATHY, and STRATEGIC.  And these are how to make the most of them!


What Characterizes You:

“People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.”

What You Should Focus On:

  • In your work, seek roles in which you’ll be helping people succeed. In coaching, managing, mentoring or teaching roles, your focus on strengths will prove particularly beneficial to others.
  • Develop a plan to use your most powerful talents outside of work. In doing so, consider how your talents relate to the mission in your life and how they might benefit your family or the community.
  • Don’t let your Maximizer talents be stifled by conventional wisdom, which says you should find what is broken and fix it. Identify and invest in the parts of your organization or community that are working.
  • See if you can make some of your weaknesses irrelevant. For example, find a partner, devise a support system or use one of your stronger talents to compensate for one of your weaker ones.

What Others Should Note About You:

Say your strength is not MAXIMIZER, but you have a Maximizer around you – your co-worker, employee, child, friend, etc.  Note that people with Maximizer will expect you to understand and value their strengths.  They will become frustrated if you spend too much time focusing on their weaknesses.


What Characterizes You:

”People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.”

What You Should Focus On:

  • You are at your best when you have the time to follow an intellectual trail and see where it leads. Get involved on the front end of projects and initiatives, rather than jumping in at the execution stage.  If you join in the latter stages, you may derail what has already been decided, and your insights may come too late.
  • People may think you are aloof or disengaged when you close your door or spend time alone. Help them understand that this is simply a reflection of your thinking style and that it results not from a disregard for relationships, but from a desire to bring the most you can to those relationships.
  • Take time to write. Writing might be the best way for you to crystallize and integrate your thoughts.

What Others Should Note About You:

When working with people who have INTELLECTION (even if you don’t), don’t hesitate to challenge their thinking; they probably won’t be threatened by it.  On the contrary, they should take it as a sign that you’re paying attention to them, which makes them happy!


What Characterizes You:

“People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.”

What You Should Focus On:

  • Emphasize your sense of responsibility when job hunting. During interviews, describe your desire to be held fully accountable for the success or failure of projects, your intense dislike for unfinished work, and your need to “make it right” if a commitment is not met.
  • Push yourself to say no. Because you are instinctively responsible, it might sometimes be difficult to refuse opportunities.  For this reason, you must be selective.  Ask for more responsibility in only areas that matter most to you.
  • Working with a like-minded, responsible colleague is satisfying for you. Be sure to clarify expectations and boundaries so that each person can feel ownership for their particular tasks – without stepping on each other’s toes.

What Others Should Note About You:

People with RESPONSIBILITY dislike sacrificing quality for speed, so be careful not to rush them.  In discussing their work, talk about its quality first.


What Characterizes You:

“People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.”

What You Should Focus On:

  • Act quickly and firmly when others behave in a way that is unhealthy for themselves or others. Understanding someone’s emotional state does not mean that you must excuse their behavior.  Be aware that when your empathy turns to sympathy, others might see you as a “bleeding heart”.
  • Consider serving others as a confidante or mentor. Because trust is paramount to you, people are likely to feel comfortable approaching you with any need.  Your discretion and desire to be genuinely helpful will be greatly valued.
  • Because you are observant of how others are feeling, you are likely to intuit what is about to happen before it becomes common knowledge. Although your intuitions may at times seem nothing more than “hunches” to you, take conscious note of them.  They may turn out to be valuable assets!

 What Others Should Note About You:

Before securing commitment to a particular course of action from people with EMPATHY, ask them how they feel and how other people feel about the issues involved.  For them, emotions are as real as other more practical factors and must be weighed when making decisions.


What Characterizes You:

“People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed.  Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.”

What You Should Focus On:

  • You can see repercussions more clearly than others can. Take advantage of this ability by planning your range of responses in detail.  There is little point in knowing where events will lead if you are not ready when you get there.
  • Though your awareness of possible danger might be viewed as negativity by some, you must share your insights if you are going to avoid pitfalls. To prevent misperception of your intent by others, point out not only the future obstacle you see, but also a way to prevent or overcome it.
  • Trust your intuitive insights as often as possible. Even though you might not be able to explain them rationally, your intuitions are created by a brain that instinctively anticipates and projects.  Have confidence in these perceptions.

What Others Should Note About You:

Always give people with STRATEGIC ample time to think through a situation before asking for their input.  They aren’t likely to voice their opinion until they have played out a couple of scenarios in their mind.

So, these are the things I should be focused on, since these are my strengths.  As you probably can tell, I did not list out all the tips from the book, but shortened it to about 3 or 4 points to focus on.  The book offers much more.

It would be nice if you could read the book or take the test, and share your strengths with me too, and how you plan to capitalize on them!

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