Can you focus your strengths to overcome adversity?

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The more strengths you have the easier it is to breakthrough from adversity.

 

You can use your strengths to overcome adversity, in fact almost anything

When I first started out in my own business in the agricultural machinery industry, at the ripe old age of 24, I always seemed to win, everything seemed to work for me. I thought strengths was something to do with horsepower and muscles.

But it was the loss of a tractor sale in particular that actually permanently changed my mindset from loser to winner. I quickly learned that for us to win someone else had to lose, the pie at that time was not going to get any bigger, so I had to learn how to win.

Each year my knowledge grew,  I became a little better and we won a little more, as innovation crept into our mindset. Suddenly we began beating the mediocre competition, reducing competitors from twelve machinery dealers in our town, eventually back to back to four.

We might have won the game, but we certainly lost a few battles.  What made the difference? By being passionate about our business, managing better and working to our strengths in the services we offered our customers.

 

Why does this happen?

And how can we take those lessons and put them to use in other businesses? The answer is quite simple, follow your passion and work to your strengths. You only do that by leaving your comfort zone, understanding your passion and strengths and actually doing something about it.

First, there were competitors who took the competition lightly. “It will be so easy to drive this new business out of town”, and “they won’t last”, they thought, “I’m not even going to try or do anything differently”. But were they working to their strengths, and doing it with the right attitude?

Do you see what happens when this mindset is adopted? It’s a loser’s attitude and a no-win situation when you play to complacency and maintain the status quo. Because even if you do win a battle or two, there’s little to be gained.

There are no learning experiences when you don’t give yourself competition or surround yourself with people that push you to perform to your strengths and you don’t make many friends until they buy something from you.

 

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation”. Brian Tracy

 

In particular, you need to have external people who can provide objectivity and perspective and people who are not afraid to question what you are doing. I was lucky in my early years because external people were not intimidating to me because of my age and I knew everyone likes helping young people. Be careful the story can change with age.

Instilling a service mentality into our people had a profound effect. Each tick on the clock changed their perception from “Can we do this?” to “We can do this” and beat the competition. “We are the best in our business and we will remain so”.

Giant leaps forward occurred because I knew that only by taking employees out of their comfort zone and helping them to understand a strengths-based approach, could they see and reach their true potential. Money was never a real motivator, winning was.

 

How can we incorporate this lesson into innovation in your business?

The answer is simple. You must put yourself in situations where you have to play ‘up a level’, surround yourself with positive people who will push you to your peak performance.

Volunteer when someone offers up a terrifyingly difficult opportunity. Raise your hand when a committee asks for volunteers to lead a group through a monumental task.

You must educate yourself. Register for that seminar, book that plane ticket and put yourself out there at the seminar and in the post-event networking opportunities.

Build a better network of people that you spend the most time with, surround yourself with the best people you can. Increase your batting average, find opportunities that challenge and even terrify you. This will force you to work to your strengths and bring out the best in you and everyone involved. In fact, adversity can become your friend if you keep learning from it.

After our first season in business ended we all put in Christmas that first year as very different people. That feeling never left us as we expanded into one of the biggest employers in our region and one of the biggest farm machinery dealers in Australia.

As each year rolled by our confidence grew and we learned how to work to our strengths in very creative ways while teaching us many valuable lessons about business and about life. Innovation became part of my DNA, increases your strengths and helps to quickly overcome adversity. When you have your strengths finally honed, procrastination is replaced by better problem-solving, better decision-making and action orientation.

 

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Personal Experience

Unfortunately after fifteen years, we had to close the farm machinery business because of a record 100-year drought, bigger than anything I could ever have imagined. However, the feelings and lessons could never be taken away from us, lessons that will never be forgotten.

Find your opportunity to play to your strengths. Get out of your comfort zone and seek to be pushed to the potential you are capable of achieving. It’s the only way to know what truly resides inside of you and the possibilities you have in front of you.

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