Strategy & Execution

Discovering Your Natural Strengths…Focusing on Your Unique Ability

A number of years ago, I had the good fortune of being introduced to Dan Sullivan, Founder & President of The Strategic Coach – an organization focused on helping entrepreneurs reach new levels of success and happiness.  The Strategic Coach Program has played an important role in the way I think, act and feel about my business and personal life as well as how I mentor others.  A key principle of Dan’s teachings is the concept of Unique Ability – a way of describing a powerful force that is at the very core of who you are as an individual.  Every person who has ever lived has a Unique Ability, though most people are not conscious of it.  Because of this lack of awareness, these people have not experienced the infinite rewards that come from being able to harness and develop their natural talents and pursue their passions wholeheartedly.  The more you are able to recognize your Unique Ability and shape your life around it, the more freedom, success and happiness you will experience.

Your Unique Ability has four characteristics:


  1. A superior ability that other people notice and value
  2. Love doing it and want to do it as much as possible
  3. Energizing for you and others around you
  4. You keep getting better, never running out of possibilities for further improvement

frustrateMost individuals are not able to identify their Unique Ability, let alone concentrate on it, because they are trapped by childhood training.  We learn at a young age that the secret to success in life is working on our weaknesses.  Unfortunately, it is the focus on weaknesses that results in a sense of deficiency, failure and guilt.  As a result, our lives are filled with frustration, wasted potential and missed opportunity.  Letting go of these “lack of abilities” to focus on the things you love is the secret to maximizing your performance.

Through Dan Sullivan’s teaching, we learn that all people spend their lives in four zones of activity – incompetence, competence, excellence and Unique Ability.

Incompetent Activities:   These represent tasks that make you feel frustrated and stressed because you are just not good at them.  What incompetent activities would you be happy to get rid of?  What incompetent tasks drain your confidence?

Competent Activities:  These are activities you are merely adequate at conducting.  There are a lot of other people who could do these tasks with greater success and less effort than you.  It is competent activities that create boredom in your life.

Excellent Activities:  You have superior skill in conducting these activities.  People can count on you to accomplish these tasks.  You may have even developed a reputation for your capability in these areas.  However, deep down, you do not have a burning passion for these activities.  Even with all of the external positive reinforcement, these activities do not fuel your passion.

Unique Ability Activities:  These are the activities that create energy and enthusiasm.  When you engage in them, you bubble over with excitement.  You could do these activities all day long and keep going.  They give you endless possibilities for improvement, no matter how skilled you are at them.

Your success or failure in life depends upon how much time you spend in each of the zones.  Unsuccessful people spend most of their time in the incompetent zone.  Successful people spend most of their time in zones of competence and excellence.  And, “geniuses” – those who achieve extraordinary results during their lives – spend almost all of their lives in the Unique Ability Zone.

Are you aware of your natural strengths? Your Unique Ability?  If so, are you harnessing this talent in synergistic ways to maximize your performance?

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