How to build on your strengths and make your weaknesses irrelevant?
During our studies, at school, college or university, we were usually forced to focus on correcting our weaknesses in order to succeed. But gradually there is more consensus that it is much more effective to focus on taking full advantage of your strengths than investing scarce resources in correcting weaknesses.
What do we mean by strengths?
The concept of ‘strength’ is commonly understood as a set of salient features and activities that we perform well. But here we will think about strengths in a more comprehensive way:
Strengths are activities that:
- We are attracted to, we want to do them even if beforehand it makes us generate some anxiety or fear of failure.
- We execute them well, generally better than the average person.
- When we do them, we tend to concentrate and lose track of time.
- We feel it energizes us with positive feelings, even though physically it could make us feel exhausted.
- We would like to have opportunities to do it again and continually improve.
On the other hand, we understand weaknesses as activities that:
- We dislike, they make us generate negative emotions.
- We would prefer to finish them quickly or even avoid them if possible.
- They make us feel mentally exhausted, as if these activities take away energy from us.
It is important to remark on the fact that an activity that we perform properly or than we even master, is not necessarily a strength. If we do not like to do an activity, it is preferable to put it aside and concentrate on doing as much as possible in our strength zone: a skill we have should never obligate us to dedicate our life to something we dislike.
The old model and the new one
We usually tend to invest much of our time on improving our weaknesses. This way, the best we could achieve is a mediocre performance, but we could never excel in this because we lack other key ingredients for true success: enjoyment, interest, specific skills, passion…
On the contrary, if we invested the same time further developing our existing strengths, we could achieve outstanding professionals goals and enjoy a sense of well being and self-achievement, bringing our unique contribution to the world day-by-day.
Can I really put aside my weaknesses?
It is important to develop a career consistent with our strengths. If the professional career or specific job position demands you do many activities in which you have weaknesses, you are doomed to failure both personally and professionally. It is therefore very important to identify your strengths and weaknesses, interests, skills, capabilities and goals, and to analyse how all this fits with potential studies or jobs for you. We have to recognise, however, that it is very difficult to find a job position in which 100% of our time is spent putting our strengths into action. In such cases, when the choice is ‘almost’ but not 100% perfect, we must seek creatively how to make our weaknesses irrelevant:
- Get someone else, who has strengths in that area, to perform that activity instead of us.
- Find a different way to achieve the same result but doing other activities where we do have strengths, or at least not so marked weaknesses.
- Reduce the frequency and duration of these activities to the benefit of using that time for our strengths.
- Learning, in cases where we cannot resolve it with the above methods, at least to the minimum level required to perform those activities.
Identifying my strengths and weaknesses
We propose the following activity, which enables you to identify your own strengths and weaknesses:
During the day, and for one or two weeks, describe the activities you carry out, as specifically as possible, thinking specifically about the circumstances, under what conditions, for whom, why, where, how, etc. ..- and the sensations it generated in you before, during and after they were made.
‘Preparing a presentation for a training course.’
Specific conditions in order to be a strength:
– I need to have enough time to prepare it.
– It should be directed to a public which is really interested in the subject.
– Not repeating the same presentation too frequently nor in the exact same way.
It is important to identify the specific conditions, as shown in the example above. If for instance this person were forced to prepare the training course for a group that will not feel involved, or he would have to repeat himself every week, it will not count as a strength for him. In fact, as this person is very creative and passionate about training, the later conditions would transform that activity into a weakness for him, despite the fact that he is still capable of performing it well.
We suggest you do this exercise both for strengths and weaknesses. Finally, try to generate a list of the most important strengths and weaknesses, discarding the activities that are almost neutral to you. Afterwards, the most important goal in this regard, is to find a career path that lets you put your strengths into action and to continue developing them.
And what about you? Are you already using your whole potential? Do you have a clear assessment of your strengths and weaknesses? We can help you through our career coaching, don’t hesitate to ask us for help.
Do you agree with this new approach, or are you more of the opinion that we need to correct our weaknesses? Please share your unique point of view by writing a comment!