Where Do I Focus: My Strengths or My Weaknesses?

Two of my top strengths, Activator and Command, made perfect sense to me but over the years had been identified as problematic behaviors in some of my performance reviews. I felt ‘different’ and ‘misunderstood’. I was often coached or counseled by colleagues to stop those behaviors, to be more passive, to adopt a low profile and ‘stay out of trouble’. I tried and tried to suppress those strengths but continued to fail at being like my colleagues. I adopted the view that those behaviors associated with my Activator and Command were flaws in my character development.

Once I came to deeply understand my strengths I learned how to manage the power of my Activator and Command. I used them in service of my calling or purpose. This awareness is something that I work on everyday. So I can be influential and inspiring when I bring my strengths to the table, I keep these questions in mind:

Who do I want to be?
How do I want to be in relationship to others?
What is called for in this situation?

There is nothing more satisfying that finding that sweet spot – where you are using your strengths in service of your calling or purpose.

where do I focus-my strengths or my weaknesses

A Gallup poll investigated this phenomenon by asking American, French, British, Canadian, Japanese, and Chinese people of all ages and backgrounds this question:

“Which do you think will help you improve the most: knowing your strengths or knowing your weaknesses?

The majority of people realize that the secret to sustainable improvement lies in a deep understanding of their strengths.

  • The most strengths-focused culture is the United States, but still only a minority of people – 41 percent – felt that knowing their strengths would help them improve the most.
  • The least strengths-focused cultures are Japan and China. Only 24 percent believe that the key to success lies in their strengths.

Interestingly, in every culture, older people (55 and above) were the least fixated on their weaknesses. Perhaps they have acquired more self-acceptance, self-confidence and have learned to focus on what works best for them. They are less concerned about what others think.

The Focus on Shortcomings

Why, as a culture, do we waste precious time trying to fix ourselves or others? Weaknesses are somehow fascinating and strangely mesmerizing. They often are taken on as a challenge to overcome. Sometimes our weaknesses offer us rationalizations for failing or not doing well. Simultaneously we carry a lot of shame and embarrassment, deeply fearing our weaknesses, fearing that our failures will be exposed. In this cycle we lose connection with our authentic selves.

The human brain is wired to pay attention to fear and danger. However, if you do not become aware of your strengths you will miss out on the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with becoming who you are really meant to be.

The secret to sustainable improvement lies in a deep understanding of our strengths. Click To Tweet

Is it Strengths vs. Weaknesses?

When over or under used a strength can become a weakness – it’s the shadow side of our strengths. Everyone has gone there and all strengths have a shadow side. Here are some general characteristics to watch for in yourself and in the people you work with.

Do you know your core strengths? Have you paused to work with a coach to dive deeper into unlocking your strengths capacity? I would love to hear about your experience with strengths. Contact me or let’s connect on LinkeIn.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Personality Types

Sources: Peter Urs Bender’s Guide to Strengths and Weaknesses of Personality Types, & Brinkman, Rick, and Kirschner, Rick (2002), Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, 2nd ed. McGraw-Hill.

What did you notice? Do you recognize yourself as fitting into any of these general categories? Can you identify your strengths? Where you able to identify the strengths of others? Could you identify what triggers your strengths into over or under use, changing your strengths into weaknesses?

Do you know your core strengths? Have you paused to work with a coach to dive deeper into unlocking your strengths capacity? I would love to hear about your experience with strengths. Contact me or let’s connect on LinkeIn.

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