Phil Sarros sharing his tips for leadership and personal strengths with two attendees at IMPACT LIVE

When we think of growing a business, we often focus on the technical aspects, such as increasing sales or building a larger customer base. What many of us don’t think about is how our personal growth can also have an impact on our business growth.

We chatted with Phil Sarros, Director of Education at Dirt Monkey University, to learn more about how business growth and personal growth are connected.

We’ll cover:

  • How does personal growth fit with business growth?
  • What is a personal strength?
  • Why we shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about weaknesses
  • How to identify and build on your strengths

“No matter what your personality is, you absolutely can be a great leader, because each personality, each type of temperament is going to have strengths and weaknesses.”

How does personal growth fit in with business growth?

When you as a person succeed, so will your business, says Phil.

He states that, while business is important, addressing yourself, and who you are as a person, should take the lead because it helps understand why you do the things you do.

“I always feel that while it’s super important to work on your business, I think it is more important and vital to work on who you are as a person. The better understanding you have of who you are, you’re going to be able to go out into the world, unapologetically, knowing that you have absolute confidence in the person you are.”

It’s no surprise that ‘confidence has no competition’ is the Dirt Monkey University tagline.

Phil says that by looking internally, you’ll begin to see behavioural patterns in your life, whether in relationships or business, that either need improvement or areas where you want to focus your energy.

“When you lead, you lead from your strengths. When you sell, when you make decisions, when you get into relationships with employees and clients and spouses and children and friends, knowing who you are will only benefit you. It will only lift you up and make you a stronger person and better in business.”

“Knowing who you are will only benefit you. It will only lift you up and make you a stronger person and better in business.”

Where do you start when trying to understand who you are?

According to Phil, the key to understanding who you are is focusing on finding and building up your strengths, whether those are related to your personal life, your business life, or both.

“When it comes to you moving forward in life, you can either step on the gas or step on the brake. And where your gas, where your energy is going to come from, where your momentum is going to come from, is your strengths. You want to put the gas pedal on all of your strengths and get momentum behind it so you can make everything, so you can identify what that is and go out and live within that strength.”

What is a personal strength?

Strength can mean a lot of different things to different people, but Phil summarizes it as:

“It’s something that’s very easy for you to do repeatedly, you do it great, and it comes naturally to you. For some people that’s speaking, for some it’s music or art or athletics. There are natural strengths within you.”

He states that a lot of people haven’t identified their strengths, but instead focus more time on improving their weaknesses. Phil thinks that notion should be flipped, with more energy put into growing in areas where you feel happiest and perhaps working with others who are strong in areas you are not.

“I encourage people to definitely identify what your weaknesses are, but don’t put so much effort into improving your weakness, like, ‘well I’m not a very organized person, so I’m going to work on being organized.’ You’d be better off having somebody in your life that is organized and continue to focus on your strengths.”

How do you identify your strengths? 

Looking internally and identifying your strengths can be tough, but Phil suggests a few methods that can make it easier.

  • Look at online and book resources: There are a few online resources that can help you pinpoint your strengths using keywords. One of these resources is Gallup’s Clifton StrengthsFinder, a book and app on the Google Play Store. This resource will make you re-evaluate your skills and what words you want to use when describing your strength.
  • Ask people around you: Asking other people—such as friends, family, or co-workers—to identify your strengths can bring a new and refreshing perspective that you may have never thought of yourself. This is because others often see you more impartially than you see yourself.
  • Identify strengths in other people: When you identify strengths in other people it will allow you a chance to consciously and purposefully find good in others, which will also help you find the good in you and the things that you’re strong in.
  • Self reflection: Finding some quiet time for your brain is important. Allowing it to settle down and putting that question out there: “what am I great at?” The more you allow yourself to reflect on this, the faster you will identify the good qualities that you should focus on.

Phil gave us a personal example of how identifying his strength as a non-traditional leader benefited both his personal and business life:

“I used to believe I was not a good leader because my thoughts on leadership [when I first got into the green industry] was you had to be a very strong personality. You had to be somebody that can walk in and just tell people what needed to be done. Do this, do this, do this. No exceptions, no excuses. I really believed that was leadership.

“I have fun leading now and I can be authentic with who I am. I don’t have to bring the hammer down, but I still know the boundaries.”

For a number of years, I struggled because I would tell myself I’m not a good leader because the vision that I had in my mind, the blueprint of what a good leader was, did not match who I was. I made the mistake of trying to be that person.

Then I did some studying and had a chance to dive deep into who I am. I realized I am a great leader, but I’m going to be a horrible leader if I tried to lead like somebody else. I realized no matter what your personality is, you absolutely can be a great leader, because each personality, each type of temperament is going to have strengths and weaknesses. I have fun leading now and I can be authentic with who I am. I don’t have to bring the hammer down, but I still know the boundaries.”

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