"If I knew you in the schoolyard versus knowing you now, what's changed?"
Trainer and speaker Marcus Buckingham asked this of a woman in an Oprah workshop posted to the show's site. Most of us would have a variety of answers to this. I'd probably say that I'm less bossy, more sensitive, a bit less brave, and more aware.
But Buckingham says we don't really change—that as we grow we become more and more ourselves. "The challenge is to make it a productive version of who you are," he says. (Oprah notes that Glenda the Good Witch "said it best," when she told Dorothy that she always had "it" in her.)
Another Buckingham idea: The greatest opportunities for growth come out of strengths, not weaknesses. We get maximum effect from emphasizing the strengths rather than overcoming the weaknesses, which produces only incremental improvements.
It's an interesting idea because many of us tend to spend our time treating and trying to fix our shortfalls. Even performance reviews aim to largely address our weaknesses rather than our strengths, Buckingham notes.
If we really focused on our strengths, minimizing the import of our weaknesses, how would it change our careers?