Strengths are like a force of nature. You need to seek out situations that call upon your strengths! I put a star next to that line from Marcus Buckinham’s Trombone Player Wanted. I thought this film was fascinating, and it got me thinking about why I enrolled at the Golf Academy of America in the first place – to get back to doing what I am good at and to reveal the best of me. Buckingham breaks the film down into six different chapters:
So What’s Stopping You?
I knew what I wanted to do when I was nine years old. I remember the exact moment. My uncle, my cousin, and my grandfather came to visit us in Tucson for Spring Training. We drove up to Phoenix to watch the Chicago Cubs because my uncle and my cousin are from Chicago, and they are huge Cubs fans. This would have been 1989, and they must have known the Cubs were going to be good because they never came out to visit during Spring Training. Turns out the Cubs would go on to win the National League East that year and later advance to the National League Championship Series. I remember going to watch an Oakland A’s game and being enamored by a player by the name of Jose Canseco. I really fell in love with sports at that moment. I decided that if I could not be a professional athlete, I wanted to talk about sports in some capacity for a living. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I made it my life’s pursuit to achieve my goal. Recently, I have strayed from the path that I was on, but being at the Golf Academy has me feeling like I am back on the right track.
Do You Know What Your Strengths Are?
Buckingham describes your strengths as having a “yearning” about them, and that they want to bust out! I agree. When I was in sales the last few years, I felt like I was under-utilizing my talents and that I was not doing what I was “supposed” to be doing with my life. I had to step back from what I was doing and take a long, hard look at what makes me feel strong. I decided that what made me feel strong was golf. I could think about golf for hours. I could practice golf for hours. I could analyze golf for hours… and not get tired or bored! Buckingham says your strengths have a restorative quality about them, and I think this is true. I used to describe hitting balls on the driving range as therapy. But now, I have come to believe that what I was really experiencing was the result of an activity that left me feeling strong. My appetite for becoming a better golfer drove me to get better.
How Can You Make the Most of Them?
Buckingham says that it is best to seek out situations that call upon your strengths because strengths reveal the best of you. I took some time to list out what I feel are some of my strengths: multi-tasking, making/completing lists, competitive, determined, hard worker, high-energy, funny, writing, goal-oriented, and editing. These are things I think I am naturally good at. They are God-given gifts, and I do not feel like I really have to work at them. I can remember when I was in elementary school and a teacher would give us a writing assignment. I could usually get it finished before the end of class whether it was just a poem or whether it was a creative writing assignment! The words would just gush out of me onto the paper. Right now, I am writing and maintaining a daily blog about my experience at the Golf Academy. While it may seem like a monotonous task to some, I enjoy it because it is easy for me to generate the written content necessary to keep the site current.
How Do You Cut Out Your Weaknesses?
For me, the first step toward cutting out my weaknesses was, as Buckingham describes, “finding out what I didn’t like doing and to stop doing it!” For me, this was selling office equipment and IT services at my last job. The process of selling actually weakened me physically. I was exhausted at the end of the day because I felt like I was spinning my wheels. I came to loathe the sales process because I felt like I had no control over the decisions that buyers made. It was difficult to get customers to pull the trigger for something they already had, still needed, and could save their business or company money. Customers seemed to be paralyzed by the most trivial decisions, and it was affecting my livelihood. I used to dread coming to work in the morning, and I could not wait to get home in the evening. I found myself wanting to take a short nap when I got home at the end of the work day because I was so spent. I was in the car a lot, and it was not unusual to drive more than 400 miles in a given week. Since I have enrolled at the Golf Academy, I have found that the exact opposite is true. Instead of wanting the day to end, I find myself wishing that there were more hours in the day for me to focus on golf! I remember, when I was working in television, something exciting seemed to happen every day. I had great stories to tell when I got home. When I moved to sales, those stories came to a screeching halt. I had no stories to tell because I had become bored with the process, and I could not think of anything exciting to tell my friends. I felt “brain dead” because I was not being challenged at work. Since I have been at the Golf Academy, those stories have come flooding back. I feel like I have great things to share with my wife at the end of the day.
Why Is It So Hard to Talk About This?
I think it is hard for people to talk about their strengths because they think they are bragging. In my opinion, it is not bragging, it is being honest. We all want to reach our highest potential, and there is nothing wrong with being forthcoming about the best way to get there. I have always said there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance makes people uncomfortable, but confidence should not. Like Buckingham says, no one knows your strengths better than you. I wish my previous company had pulled me aside and asked me more about my strengths. I really liked the people that I worked with but felt I could have been better utilized elsewhere in the company. I think we are also afraid to talk about our strengths because we are afraid of how they will be received. We do not want to hear someone disagree with what we think our strengths are. We do not want the rejection. But there is no wrong answer.
Why Can’t This Last Forever?
The title of this chapter is “Why Can’t This Last Forever,” and while I do not think it can last forever, I think it can last more often than not. If you trust and believe it your strengths, you can attain your best possible self. Buckingham describes three certainties: (1) you have wonderful and powerful strengths, (2) no one has the exact same strengths you do, and (3) you’ll make your biggest contribution when you learn to play to your strengths most of the time. In my opinion, No. 3 is key. If you make your biggest contribution when you learn to play to your strengths most of the time, you can make this last more often than not.
I found Trombone Player Wanted to be more empowering than anything. I am at a point in my life where I want to achieve goals that utilize my strengths, not activities that weaken me. I have worked in jobs where I have made good money and bad money. I have been thrilled to go to work, and I have loathed it. I would much rather do something that I love and make less money than do something that I cannot stand and make great money. From now on, I choose to be strengthened by my strengths!
Mizuno Demo Day
Mizuno was on campus from 10:00a until 1:00p for a demo day. Students were able to hit everything from irons to drivers on the TrackMan launch monitor. Golf Academy students get a 25% discount on a set of Mizuno clubs while they’re enrolled at school.