Where are you at your strongest?

Last month, I was chatting with Michael, a Collegewise counselor, about the difference between introverts and extroverts. I suggested that the easiest way to tell which of those camps a person belongs in might be to ask them how they feel when they walk into a gathering like a party where they don’t know a single person.

His face lit up and he replied, “Oh, that’s my favorite thing in the world to do!”

Faced with the same situation, I can circulate, make introductions, and from all appearances look like I’m enjoying myself. But it is far from my favorite thing in the world to do. In fact, it exhausts me. One hour of small talk takes the mental toll that a one-hour run takes on me physically. I need downtime to recuperate afterwards.

Marcus Buckingham, the author of Now, Discover Your Strengths, pioneered the Gallup Organization’s approach to leverage a person’s strengths as opposed to fixing their weaknesses. And this short video shares his three recommendations for success in your career, all of which apply to high school students hoping to succeed as college applicants.

This tidbit in particular stood out to me.

“Your strengths are not what you’re good at, and your weaknesses are not what you’re bad at. If you’re good at something, but it drains you, that’s not a strength, that’s a weakness. A strength is an activity that makes you feel strong, just as a weakness is an activity that makes you feel weak. A strength draws you in, and you know better than anyone else what your strengths are. And if you don’t, then it’s time to learn.”

As you think about where to put your efforts this year, please make sure you prioritize maximizing your strengths over fixing your weaknesses (strengths improve more than weaknesses do). And you might start that focus by asking not, “What am I good at?” but rather, “What makes me feel strong?”