As 2010 winds down, you’re probably doing what many of us are doing: reviewing the year.  What went well?  What didn’t?  I love doing this because, like you, I want to improve as we move into a new year.

So how do you get better?  The most popular theory says find your greatest weakness and work on it until it becomes a strength. Intuitively, that makes sense.  And yet no matter how hard you or I work at certain things, we’ll just never be exceptional at them.  I’m not really a math guy. If I was to spend all of 2011 improving my math skills, I’d be better for sure.  But I would never be as good as the people who work alongside me who are exceptional math people.

That’s why I’m so grateful for thinkers like Marcus Buckingham.  Rather than focusing on improving weaknesses, Marcus says that people make better progress if they develop their strengths.  He believe that people should further hone what they are naturally good at.  In that, he says, lies the potential for greatness.

So what if we applied that to parenting?  As you review 2010, think about your parenting.  Ask this key question:

What’s the best thing I did this as a parent this year?

If you’re not sure, take some time to reflect.  Ask your spouse.  Ask you best friend.  If appropriate, even ask your son or daughter.  It might be an event (the day we all camped out in the backyard), but it might be best if the answer focused on a character trait or a general pattern in your parenting.  If it’s something you can do regularly or even daily, the impact is multiplied.

Once you’ve identified something you’re already good at, decide to get better at it next year.

An example…personally, one of the things I did well this year was to increase the quantity of quality time I spent with my family.  I completely reworked my schedule to be home more and to focus more when I was home.

To get better at this next year, I want to do two things:

Bring more energy home after work each day (don’t use up all my best at work)

Create meaningful moments for Toni and the kids each week (don’t let whole weeks go by without adding something of value to their lives)

What about you?  What did you do well?  Please share…we’re all listening and we’d love to learn.  Sharing a strength might help us see something in ourselves we didn’t even realize was there.