Some people waste a lot of perfectly good energy wishing they could do things they can't. They hear someone play the piano and say longingly, "If only I could make such beautiful music!" They watch an athlete, hear a stirring speech, or read a well-crafted novel and lament, "I wish I could do that!"

My theory is that everybody is good at something and that the key both to achievement and satisfaction is in knowing what that something is – developing it to a maximal degree, and using it. In other words, play to your strengths.

One young family I know has a daughter who is casting about to decide what she wants to do when she grows up. As with most seven-year-olds, she sees the world as her domain to conquer. She has ruled nothing out as yet. You have to admire that kind of optimism — and pray that nothing wrings it out of her.

At the same time, her optimism must have a bit of reality mixed with it. So there has been a dilemma. Her current hot options are between being a rock singer and a star tennis player. The reality factor here is that she occasionally hits the tennis ball, but she never hits a note. So her mom and dad have had no great difficulty in deciding between voice lessons and tennis instruction.

With grown-ups, time is more of the essence. We don't have another five or ten years to cast about among unlimited options. So how do you find your strengths? Begin with four sheets of paper, and use these headings:

  • Things that are easy for me
  • Things people tell me I do well
  • Things that make me lose track of time
  • Things that are fun and fulfilling for me

Now circle the thing(s) that appear on all four lists. You've probably discovered your strength(s).

Conventional wisdom may tell you to find your areas of greatest weakness and shore them up. Does that really make sense? You'll probably never be more than mediocre at something you dislike, try to avoid, and feel frustrated doing. If you're tone deaf, don't waste money on voice lessons. Try tennis instead.

It seems far wiser to explore your aptitudes, passions, and talents. Focus and develop your energies there. Become really, really good at something you enjoy. You will find tremendous satisfaction in generating excellence in your field. And the great likelihood is that people will reward you for it.

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God (Ecclesiastes 2:24).

Become really, really good at something you enjoy.

Check out these two related videos from Andy Stanley: