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Podcast Appearance: How to Use Your Genius Strengths to Do More of What You Love

Reading Time: 18 minutes

My friend Karl Craig-West hosted me on his podcast to talk about how to use your Genius strengths to do more of what you love.

We talk about how you can figure out and use your Genius strengths, how to spot and collaborate with other people’s strengths, and how to use your unique strengths to set you apart in the marketplace.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think! 

An update since this was recorded in March 2022: The Strengths Deck can now be found at its very own website here, and you can buy your very own set of The Strengths Deck in the Store. And if you want to talk to me about how we can work together to get you soaring with your strengths, you can book a free “chemistry check” call with me here.

Any discussion of personal strengths would be incomplete without me letting you know about The Strengths Deck.

I created it to put the power of strengths in your hands. If you want to learn about your unique strengths fingerprint and how to make the most of your amazing strengths, click the logo to find out more, or make a booking for your free, 30-minute call to talk about how we can get your strengths working for you.


Intro 00:00

You’re listening to the Smashing Self Employment podcast. Ideas, tools and tips to help you get more done, get more customers, cut the stress, and be your own best boss when you work for yourself. And now, here’s your host, serial entrepreneur, best selling author, speaker and trainer Karl Craig-West.

Karl Craig-West 00:20

Hi there. And thank you for joining us on this latest episode of The Smashing podcast. And for the second time, I’m absolutely delighted to have on the line, Daria Williamson. But before we get to that, remember to click on the like button, share it out if you think there’s folks you think, believe or so could do with hearing this. And remember, or whatever app or platform you’re listening on, click on the join, follow, subscribe thing. It will be great to have you on board. But anyway, welcome again, Daria Williamson.

Daria Williamson 00:51

Thanks for having me back, Karl.

Karl Craig-West 00:53

Thank you. Now today Daria is going to be sharing some of her knowledge. Because she’s got some really interesting stuff that can help you in your business. I will talk about it in a bit. But she’s actually helped me to clarify a few things about me and what I’m doing and what I’m working on what I enjoy and don’t enjoy. And I believe that this can help you in your business. So before we get to that, tell us a little bit about you again, and what it is you do.

Daria Williamson 01:23

Thanks, Karl. So I am a personal strengths and leadership coach, I work with people to help them figure out what’s in their zone of genius, while the graded and that lights them up so that they can have a more enjoyable, engaging, productive, and just generally fun, life and work experience. So I’m based in beautiful Auckland, and I work with people around the country and around the world. So I do zoom meetings and also face to face, where travel permits.

Karl Craig-West 01:56

Nope, that’s brilliant. And where can people find you?

Daria Williamson 01:59

So they can find me at dariawilliamson.com

Karl Craig-West 02:10

Brilliant. Thanks very much. Okay, so there’s three parts I believe to what you want to go through. So let’s kick off with part number one, go for it.

Daria Williamson 02:22

Alright, so today, what I’m going to talk to you about is three ways you can use your strengths to power up your work. So first of all, you know, we have to get some definitions out of the way. I talk about your Zone of Genius. So when we normally talk about strengths, people just think about the Performance aspect of what you’re great at.

But there’s another aspect that’s super important. And that’s your Preference for it, like, do you actually enjoy doing this thing or not? So for me, a Genius strength is something you’re great at, that you absolutely love doing, it lights you up when you’re using it. And of course, when you talk about strengths, people immediately think about weaknesses. And most people have a really negative reaction, they hate the word weakness. So I talk about your Zone of Indifference, the stuff you’re not great at, and the stuff you don’t enjoy doing, you’re gonna feel really indifferent about having to do anything with those.

So today, I’m going to talk mostly about your Genius strengths and Zone of Indifference, there are a couple of other aspects to strengths, which you can find out more about on my website. And the first step is actually knowing your unique strengths fingerprint. So actually taking some time to reflect and think about what your Genius strengths are the things you love, and are great at doing.

And then you want to use them wisely and well. So what are some new things you could do with the strengths you already have? Because you’re already great at them and you love them, it’s going to bring you more energy, it’s going to be easy to tackle new tasks, because you’re already great at those things. Then the other part of it is actually thinking about, we might overuse some of your Genius strengths. You tend to reach for them first. But they’re not always the right thing for the situation you’re dealing with. So it’s about figuring out how to find a good balance.

Karl Craig-West 04:08

Can you give us some examples of how these things might apply?

Daria Williamson 04:11

Sure. So one of my favourite ones for talking about overuse is the strength of being humorous. So most of us enjoy a good laugh. You know, we banter, we chat, we joke. But it wouldn’t always be appropriate to do that at say, a business meeting or a funeral. And in fact, you could really piss some people off if you use humour in the wrong context. So even if humour is the one you reached for first, it might not always be appropriate to the place and the time.

Karl Craig-West 04:42

Yeah, I’ve fallen foul of this when delivered to a group of accountants last year. Touch audience! Despite my best efforts to make them smile and grin, it was an uphill struggle. So we had a good time. Yeah, I had a good time.

Daria Williamson 05:00

The other side of it is, is not focusing solely on the things you’re not great at. You know, we get stuck in the story, we have to turn our weaknesses into strengths, which is just silly. Because the amount of time and energy it’s been trying to drag up something you don’t enjoy doing in that you’re not already good at into adequate performance. It just doesn’t make sense compared to investing that time and energy into stuff you’re already great it.

So it’s about figuring out what sits in your Zone of Indifference and then only dealing with it as far as it might trip you up. So then you go looking for one of your strengths, that helps you when you have to deal with one of those things. For me detail. Definitely, definitely in my Zone of Indifference. It bores me, I’m not great at it. But I do have a strength around Quality, about putting great work out into the world. And so when I have to do something around detail, proofreading, checking my punctuation and grammar, I actually use the the desire to produce something that’s great quality, to overcome the de-energising nature of having to wade through the detail.

Karl Craig-West 06:06

That’s a very good point. Because one of the things many self-employed people often overlook is if it’s something you A don’t enjoy, and B don’t think particularly good at, there’s loads of opportunities to outsource stuff these days, and quite cheaply, too. So I’m not a great graphic designer. So I wouldn’t even try to do anything complex. But I have someone who can do it for not a lot. And it saves me the headache and the heartache of attempting to make something look good. I’m not a visually creative person. I’m a wordsmith.

And the same thing, you know, bookkeeping is another classic, yes. In my view, you have to be a special kind of person to enjoy bookkeeping, most of us aren’t. But it’s definitely one you should outsource as quickly as you can. And there’s loads of other stuff. Like, I’m not a huge fan of administration and good at it, but I don’t enjoy it. So I try and dish it out as much as I can. It just takes the weight off. And you know, it takes me several times longer than it would somebody who enjoys it and does it well. And so got to be worth it.

Daria Williamson 07:06

That’s right. And you’ve actually just led beautifully into the second point I was going to make, which is knowing other people’s strengths. So once you get clear on your own, and you can spot your own strengths, you also start thinking more about other people’s strengths. And then it’s a case of figuring out how you can actually use each other’s strengths to benefit both of you.

So for example, you’ve just given the example you said you were great at something but don’t enjoy it, the administration. So that’s what we call a reputational strength or a potential burnout strength, because you can do it you really got it at the performance is there but the enjoyment and excitement and energizing nature is not. And so if you had to do only administration, very quickly you’d burnout. So finding someone that has it in their Genius strength: they love it and they’re great at it. What a great opportunity for you to pass some work on to them! They’re working in their Zone of Genius, and you’re freeing up your time to spend more in your Zone of Genius.

But there’s also another way you can strengths pair and that’s having two complementary strengths. So I think we both have a strength of Centre-Stage, we’re fine in the spotlight, we don’t mind that. So this example is not quite you and me. But let’s pretend that you don’t have Centre-Stage and I do, and you have Storyteller, and I don’t. So the Storyteller is able to weave this great narrative that takes you on a journey and gets you engaged with the characters and the situation and the challenge and the overcoming. See, if you can teach me the story that you’ve developed and then I tell it on stage, we both benefit. You’re getting your story out there, and I’m using my genius strength to get it out there for you.

So it doesn’t always have to be trading off something you’re not great at or don’t enjoy to someone who does. It can also be finding a way to marry up two Genius strengths in a way that benefits everyone more.

Karl Craig-West 08:59

And I guess it’s also a case of being aware of spotting a complementary strength necessarily have and that and that can take a while. I was thinking it kinda reminds me of a story a few years ago, working with my my graphic designer in the UK in the web design business and she’s a freelancer. And she hates administration but she gets a great kick out of sending invoices because she’s like, “Yeah, I’m gonna get paid”.

And despite the fact that yes, I’m going to get paid, I still don’t enjoy it. I can’t quite get my head into that. Yeah, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna nail it. I’m gonna get paid and feel good about it. It just doesn’t. For whatever reason, it still doesn’t click with me.

Daria Williamson 09:40

Yeah. And so it’s about finding the way that you can get what needs done, done. But it doesn’t have to be you doing it.

Karl Craig-West 09:48

Yeah, and it is there are plenty of jobs you know, as you’re aware when you’re self employed that just genuinely feel like hard work. And, and surround yourself with people who can take up those bits you genuinely, even if you’re good at it, but don’t enjoy it.

And that’s the thing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t look forward to it, you’re likely to procrastinate. And sometimes these jobs that you don’t enjoy can be important. Like you say, you lean on your strengths, you go back to default. So you go and do the fun stuff instead of doing the important stuff.

Daria Williamson 10:24

You’ve just described my GST return. Every two months, and because detail is sitting in my Zone of Indifference, yeah, and I don’t enjoy the admin side of things, being analytical, all of that kind of stuff. I make mistakes, like I leave it too long, then I rush, then I make mistakes.

Thank goodness, I have an accountant who loves that kind of stuff. And I just fire off an email and say, “Look, I’ve messed this up, can you fix whatever needs fixing?” So, you know, I’m trying to do my best. It’s not great, but she’s able to take it from okay to actually the IRD will be happy with this now.

Karl Craig-West 11:01

I’ll tell you how bad this got for me a few years ago. There was one time when I was I was working from home. I was doing some coding on a website and it wasn’t going well. I really wasn’t enjoying it. I can do it but I just wasn’t enjoying it. And it was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Yes, in the UK was a balmy 21 degrees, it was roasting. They were all complaining about how hot it was. So I thought “I know, I’ll go and cut the grass”.

So during the working day, I dropped what I was doing, which was important, it was client work, and went and cut the grass because it seemed more appealing because it just wasn’t enjoying it. And I thought you know, and half-way through cutting the grass I thought, “I’m not getting paid for this”. I have just done a classic not just procrastination, but classic work avoidance technique. I just wasn’t enjoying it.

Daria Williamson 11:55

Yeah. And that’s what happens when you’re working in that Zone of Reputation or down in your Indifference is you will find all the other things, you know, you’ll be only hands and knees with a toothbrush, scrubbing the skirting boards rather than doing the thing. You know, when that’s the most appealing thing…

Karl Craig-West 12:10

How often have you done that?

Daria Williamson 12:11

Yeah, I know, I don’t do that. Because I hate cleaning as well, I pay other people to do it. It’s something else I outsource. But you know, it’s when you realise that, you’ve got that self awareness, to go, “Oh, okay, I’ve been avoiding something”. And that’s your trigger to go back and look at your strengths. “So what strengths do I have that can actually help me get through this thing?”.

Sometimes, you just have to grit your teeth and get through it. Not everything in life is enjoyable, unfortunately. But by bringing one of those strengths, or one or more of those strengths in, you can just bring a bit more energy to it so that it’s not completely insufferable to do the thing you need to do.

Karl Craig-West 12:48

Yeah, and that particular incident itself was a prompt for me to get a code monkey. Someone who would enjoy, you know, sitting, looking at the matrix and all of that. It’s, it was it was a good prompt, but it was quite a shocker. And thinking, “Oh, my God, that is extreme to get the blinking lawnmower out of the shed, instead of having to do some actual work”.

Daria Williamson 13:11

Yeah, the lengths we’ll go to to avoid the things that we don’t enjoy doing. Right?

Karl Craig-West 13:14

Oh, it’s so true. It’s so true. So looking at that, then where do we go from there?

Daria Williamson 13:21

So then I think the magic, once you’ve figured out for yourself what your strengths are, what’s in your Zone of Indifference in who you can partner with to either boost your strengths, because you’ve got complementary strengths, or to overcome those areas where you don’t have strengths, I think the next thing to do is actually look at, so how do your strengths help you with your customers?

So you figure out what your customers really want, and then how your unique strengths are going to help deliver that. So there are obvious strengths that go along with every kind of role. I mean, we’ve talked about accountant several times are really, and so you would expect an accountant to have a strength around being analytical, and having a meticulous attention to detail. If they don’t have those two things, they probably won’t make a great accountant. But if every accountant has those, then you’re not really selling anything in particular to the market, you’re just another accountant.

But if you have some kind of unique strength that can set you apart, then that’s where you go to the market. And you say look, one of the strengths in the approach I use is called Interpreter and it’s someone who can take really complex, convoluted, difficult to understand stuff and translate it so that non-technical people can get it.

And for me an accountant that has that strength of being able to explain how provisional tax works and what I need to know, so that I maintain pace with my obligations with the IRD, that’s going to be really valuable to me because I’m not an accountant. I don’t understand how it works. So if someone can interpret that complexity and say, here are the three things you need to do this month, that’s genius. And then you go out to the market with that, “I’m not your normal accountant, you’ll actually understand what we’re talking about”.

Karl Craig-West 15:13

And that is a big, big deal. I mean, we, as technicians, in our own business, we love our job, and we genuinely do love the complexities of what we do. And there’s great strength, and great business benefit, in being able to translate that into everyday English. And you know, I know I’m good at this stuff, and I enjoy doing it.

And I’ve seen web designers, because I had a web design business, who will go out and go to a networking event and just spout off a load of technical jargon. And you see everybody’s eyes glazing over. And you’re thinking “You’re missing here, obviously, going out and doing the communication bit isn’t your strength”. So in that particular instance, it might have been better off for him to write himself a script or get someone else to go and do the networking.

Daria Williamson 16:05

Yeah, and, you know, it applies in any kind of industry, you can use the strength based approach. Part of my work is business consulting, so I actually go out and help businesses figure out how to do stuff better. And so, you know, I have strengths around being analytical, I can do the problem solving, I am very good at strategic thinking. But so are most other business consultants in some way, shape or form. So that doesn’t set me apart.

But I also have a strength in, the term used in the Strengths Deck, which is the approach I’ve created, is Connoisseur. And that’s about someone that’s able to appreciate beauty and excellence, and that’s whether it’s at nature, people work, whatever. And the Connoisseur strength helps me spot when things are going really, really well. And then you go over there and figure out the lessons. Why are they going so well? What is it that makes that thing so much more successful. Because that’s where you can learn lessons that you can apply to other areas of the business.

And it might be that they’ve really nailed the process, or it could be they’ve made sure the people are really competent. But it’s being able to spot those points of excellence, that makes me a different kind of business consultant that gives people hope, and optimism. Because I’m not going in there saying, “Oh, look at all these things that are wrong”, which is what we can do when we’ve got the problem-solving lens. It’s actually “Look at what’s right. And then we’ll figure out how to do more of that round the rest of your business”.

Karl Craig-West 17:36

Yeah, and that’s one thing I like about the strengths is it doesn’t overlook, you know, things that aren’t going so well or things that you aren’t good at. But it gives you strategies for thinking, “Well, if you’re not good at this stuff, these bits and pieces, and you do not enjoy it, then the first option is to who can you find who can you get to do it”. And when you’re self employed, you’ve got lots of scope to be able to hand stuff out as soon as you can afford it.

You know, I do a whole bunch of bits and pieces in marketing for most of my clients, I do something for them, because they don’t have the technical skill. And to be honest, they just don’t want to do it. Yeah, and they don’t even want to learn it. They want to learn enough to know that it’s working or it isn’t working. But they don’t want to become you know, a Facebook ads geek. They don’t want to become an email marketing nerd, they just don’t want to do it. And that’s fine. You know, and my accounting client, he doesn’t want to get good at email marketing, it doesn’t want to get a good automated remarketing. And that’s fine. Having said that, I don’t want to get good at accounting. Although having said that I can do accounts. I’ve worked in the industry. But yeah, it does work.

But the strengths enables you to, and this is one thing I spotted when we did the card deck, is that you pretty much hit the nail on the head in that, I’m actually fairly self aware of what I’m good at. And I’m also moderately aware of what I ate what I’m good at and what I don’t enjoy, you know, the Zone of Indifference and what I’m not good at just don’t want to do. And so I would say if you’re listening, talk to Daria, go work out your strengths.

It absolutely helps because it enables me to work on enjoying more stuff. It doesn’t mean I ignore the things that are difficult, it doesn’t mean I ignore what I don’t enjoy because, you know, when you’re in business, it’s not all about lunches and big fat paychecks. There’s a lot behind the scenes! A friend of mine recently went self employed and she’s learning that this is a lot more complicated than seems. But that doesn’t mean you should just trudge on. Because you can work these things out and work out strategies to make it better and easier for you.

Daria Williamson 20:07

And I think you made a really good point earlier on where you said “There are things that I can do, but it takes me a lot longer than it takes someone who has this as an absolute Genius strength”. And that’s really super important when we’re self-employed, we only have us or maybe a small team around us. We have limited time available to us.

So if it’s gonna take me four hours to do something, which I’m not great at and don’t enjoy, that’s four hours that’s then an opportunity cost. What could I have done with that time, if I had been able to hand that over to someone that has it as a Genius strength? And maybe it takes me an hour to do the handover to set out the instructions and the parameters and agree on what it’s going to look like and check the work that they’ve done.

But even if I invest that hour, I’ve freed up three other hours, that have been available to me to do client delivery, to get out in front of people, to have some of those lovely long lunches and coffees that we occasionally get. But, you know, it’s that it’s that piece of sure, I could learn this, but what’s the cost to me of trudging through something that’s hard; that’s an enjoyable, versus figuring out how I can pass that off and do something that I’m actually great at, that lights me up, that brings me energy. Because we’re going to just perform better when we’re spending more time with our Genius strengths.

And it doesn’t always have to be a paid thing, that we pay someone to do the thing. We might find a way to strength swap. So I deliver value to you, you deliver value to me, we’re swapping the things we’re not great at and getting the other person who is great at it to do it. So, you know, we don’t always have to think about in terms of “What is this going to cost me dollars?”, it might just be a case of, “I need to do a little hunting in my network and see if I can negotiate a value exchange”.

Karl Craig-West 21:58

Yeah, and that’s a very good point you don’t have, you don’t always have to pay, you can work almost in partnership with people. And if you do have complementary strengths, where you are genuinely bringing value to one another, that can be incredibly powerful for you both. It takes a while to get there. And you know, it’s not just going to be the first person you meet. You do have to develop the relationship.

But it can be, you know, it is pretty good when you can work that out. I was gonna make another point as a completely forgotten it now. So never mind. Should have made a note. One other thing, don’t trust your memory, write stuff down.

Daria Williamson 22:43

Memory is not one of the strengths in the Strengths Deck, so there you go!

Karl Craig-West 22:47

Well, my memory is normally fairly good. You know, it’s just when you’re in discussion, you have a thought comes into your head, 30 seconds later, you think, or something there. But now it’s gone. But that’s what makes us that’s what makes us human ultimately, I guess.

Daria Williamson 23:00

Absolutely. And we can always come back and do round three, if you remember what it was.

Karl Craig-West 23:03

It’s a possibility that I will. The chances are good; it’s there somewhere. It’s in the vault, but I just can’t access it at this very time. So. Okay, so to wrap it up, quick fire, what are strengths good for? How can they be leveraged? How can you help?

Daria Williamson 23:24

What are strengths good for? Everything, but also not everything! So I’m a fan of saying “Strengths are not a silver bullet, because nothing is but they are one of the things that can help you build a life and build a job and build work that you’re proud of excited by and energized by”. How can you leverage them? It’s about learning what’s your particular strengths combination.

We’re incredibly unique beings and nobody has exactly the same combination of strengths. And that’s something to be really proud of, and to celebrate. Because an accountancy firm, full of accountants with nobody else with any other strengths wouldn’t succeed like an accountancy firm that has people with other complementary strengths.

So diversity is actually our best friend in this place. So it’s about figuring out your strengths, figuring out the strengths of the people around you and figuring out how you can actually work them together to make things better for you, for them, and for the clients that you serve.

Karl Craig-West 24:26

Brilliant. Okay, well, I mean, that’s absolutely fantastic. And I want to say thank you for you know, for working with me and helping me to affirm my strengths. And I am working on you know, ditching or not ditching, offloading, outsourcing. Call it what you will, the stuff that I don’t enjoy, or I’m not good at and I know I’m not good at it. Rather than trudging through you know, three hours of something I don’t enjoy and I’m not good at I could give it to somebody else. It will take them two minutes. And yeah worth in my for my point of view as a business person, it’s worth paying to have that three hours bought back.

And it’s one of the reasons why I don’t write blog posts anymore. It just takes me to flipping and all. Whilst I might enjoy it, it’s not great. So I just have stuff transcribed, it costs me a little bit of money, but it just buys back so much time. Great. So, thank you very much. Once again, Daria can be reached on dariawilliamson.com. She’s on LinkedIn pretty much every day, also on Instagram, with some very inspirational stuff, which is kind of cool. Any last parting shots, Daria?

Daria Williamson 25:33

Just that I love talking about strengths, it’s in my Zone of Genius to help people figure out what their Zone of Genius says. So I do one-to-one coaching. And I can also do group coaching. If you want to get a bunch of people together your business owners network or whatever, I’d love to talk to you. So jump onto the website, drop me a line and let’s have a virtual coffee.

Karl Craig-West 25:53

Yep, brilliant. Thank you very much. And I can honestly say hand on heart that Daria, like I said, has helped me. She’s great at what she does and a lot of fun to work with as well which is always a good thing. So thank you very much. Well, that’s a wrap for this episode of the podcast. Thank you very much for joining Daria, and may remember to click on the Like, Share, Subscribe slash Follow. And if you’re interested and you’re in Auckland, and you run a small business and want to get to grips with your marketing check out aucklandbusinessbuilders.co.nz [Edit June 2024 – now https://smashingselfemployment.com/]. But that’s enough from me. And from enough from Daria, thanks a lot. And bye for now.

Outro 26:29

Thanks for listening to this smashing self employment podcast. Remember to subscribe to the podcast or check out the community at smashingselfemployment.com


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