Give Your Best Where You Have Your Best to Give


“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” — Unknown

How do you give your best where you have your best to give? You’re special. You’re an individual with a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and experiences. Maybe only your closest friends know your true strengths. Maybe you don’t show your strengths at work. Why not? No matter what the task is, you can leave your mark. You have your signature strengths. Use them.

In Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance, Marcus Buckingham writes about giving your best where you have your best to give.

Key Take Aways
Here are my key take aways:

  • Give your best where you have your best to give.   Focus on the vital few activities where you can really give your best.  Focus on strengths over weaknesses.  You’ll get more results by improving your strengths than improving your weaknesses.
  • If you get knocked down, get up again.    Stay the path.  Focus on finding your strengths and finding ways to leverage them.  Expect a learning curve, but know that this is the high ROI path.
  • Spend more time in your strengths.  Design your time to spend most of your time on your strengths.
  • Spend less time in your weaknesses.  Limit the time you spend in your weaknesses.  Find ways to off load more of your weaknesses so you can spend more time in your strengths.

The Greeks Called it Endaimonia
There’s a feeling you get when you give your best and it pays off. It’s like euphoria. The Greeks called it endaimonia.

Buckingham writes:

“The Greeks coined a term to describe this feeling. They called it endaimonia, which translates as the feeling “of giving your best where you have your best to give, and of reaping the rewards of this excellence” – or more simply, and in all sense of the world, the feeling of flourishing. So, yes, at these times work can be wonderful because at work we can flourish.”

Something Changes
Sometimes we get knocked off our horse. We may not have realized how beautiful the ride was or how well we were riding. We were caught up in the ride and it was great. But something changes. The ride no longer feels right and we no longer feel strong.

Buckingham writes:

“Then something changes.  Sometimes the change is obviously negative, such as an annoying new boss or a companywide downsizing. Sometimes it is superficially positive – we are offered an exciting new promotion or the chance to participate on a high-profile project team. Sometimes the change is sudden – we’re fired.  Sometimes it’s imperceptible – a client slowly grows, and its requests of us shift and morph.”

Don’t Veer from Your Strengths Path
Find the activities that strengthen you. Don’t let the changes around you, cause you to lose sight of the activities that make you strong. Don’t let yourself get caught up in activities that weaken you. Get back on your strengths path. Buckingham writes:

“However it occurs, this change fills our weeks with different activities. Some continue to call upon our strengths, but many do not. If we are not especially vigilant, we find that we are carried along by these new activities; they take up more of our time, demand more of our attention, and, after a while, we wake up and discover that we have veered far off our strengths path.”

Push for Activities that Strengthen You and Watch for Those That Drag You Down
Build habits that keep you strong.  You’re the architect of your life. Build a firm foundation. Design how you spend your time effectively. Spend your time on your strengths.  Limit your time on your weaknesses.

Buckingham writes:

“To keep on it for our entire career, we need to stay clear-headed.  We need to build the right habits, so that week in, week out, and year upon year, we stay in control, always pushing toward activities that strengthen us, ever watchful for those that drag us down.”

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10 Comments on "Give Your Best Where You Have Your Best to Give"

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  1. Ari Koinuma says:

    Hi J.D.,

    Very nice post there. I thought that whole notion of strength/weakening activity is a good illustration for climbing up the ladder of healing and growth, which happens to be post I just made. Check it out:

    I think that people get used to weakening activities. We get sort of forced into them while going to school, and we unconsciously seek and accept similar-feeling places in our jobs and families, too. It’s the whole notion of we having to do what we’re being told to — we’re all free and can do what we want, but there aren’t that many people who really realize and practice that.

    I guess we still have much to learn.


  2. Khaye says:

    I admire your optimism. It will bring you to places.

  3. Avani-Mehta says:

    Hi J.D.,

    Flourishing environments move us forward and provide us with opportunities to give best. Identifying particulars of those environments and recreating them wherever we go works like magic. This is what I practice. And yes .. the feeling is definately euphoric :)

  4. Evelyn Lim says:

    It is a good idea to give from a position of strengths. We can reach out to others much more. It is less of a struggle. Our creativity flows naturally and weaves into actions that are focused, strong and inspired, based on our god-given abilities.

  5. J.D. Meier says:

    @Ari – Thank you. You’re right — it does happen gradually and it’s easy not to notice. I checked out your post. I like the emotional guidance scale.

    @Khaye – Thank you. I think optimisim helps. I think taking massive action helps (lots of little actions.) I fail a lot, but I learn and move on. Failures’s just lessons. You should see how many things I learned how not to do 😉

    @Avani – Euphoria is the way to go. I like the way you put it. It’s a reminder that wherever we go, we bring ourselves with us. It’s also a reminder that we’re the directors of our lives.

    @Evelyn – Focused, strong, and inspired has a powerful ring to it. I like your choice of words.

  6. Kash says:

    Hi J.D.
    Thanks. BTW, I always wanted to mention that I really like the “take away” section. I pretty much read that first. If I have time I will read the rest but I always read the take aways.

    One challenge is to find the strengths? sometimes there is just a bunch of average skills or talents (nothing special! just good not great). How can one systematically approach finding his/her strength?


  7. J.D. Meier says:

    @Kash – Good question.

    Try this. At the end of each day, ask yourself, what was your favorite part of the day. Write it down. Do that for a week. You’ll notice a theme.

    Next, start finding as may ways possible to apply your theme in work you already do. Your strength will go from good to great.