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Why do we always focus on improving our weaknesses?

October 27, 2015

At school and at work, we are told to focus on improving our weaknesses.  Not good at presenting, go on a presentation course.  Not good at maths, take maths tuition.  The underlying thought is that we need to be good at everything, we need to fix our weaknesses.  But why should we?  Why can't we just accept the fact some things we are good at and others we aren't?


I spent much of my uni life taking psychometric tests, analysing how I fitted into a team, what type of person etc I was, or at very least, what the 50 question form thought I was.  (I did a business course so not quite as random as that may sound!)  Some of them sounded about right, some were a snapshot of me at a particular moment but I didn't really know what to take from them.  Part of me was looking for a way to find how I fitted in, I wanted to know my place.  But I have always had an internal struggle with putting people in boxes, the irony that my day job is in marketing, an industry that is built on the principal of segmenting people!


A few months ago, I downloaded a book called StrengthsFinder 2.0, it's not a new book.  It's 10 years old and is based on 40 years of research but there was something in it I liked, an approach that you don't hear everyday.


It talked through how we need to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses.  Our life will be less focused on battling through the negativity and how if you use these strengths to guide your career choice, you will have a more fulfilling work life.  According to their website, people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their work and three times more likely to say they have an excellent quality of life.  It makes a lot of sense, why do we have to be good at everything?


But how do you know what your strengths are?  Is it what someone has told you in a review?  What you enjoy doing?  By purchasing the book, you get access to the questionnaire that will help guide you to your strengths, very useful!


The results were interesting, similar to some of the things that I have identified before in similar tests but the variety of themes and the detail that it gave was of a higher level to what I've seen before, dare I say it, it feels more accurate.  


So here it goes, my top 5 themes were:


Achiever - great deal of stamina and work hard.  Great satisfaction from being busy and productive. CHECK


Self-Assurance - confident in their ability to manage their own life.  Possess an inner compass that gives confidence that their decisions are right. MAYBE


Developer - recognise and cultivate the potential in others.  You spot the signs of small improvements and gain satisfaction from these small movements. Ask my team but I would say CHECK


Individualisation - intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. You will have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively. I'd like to think so, CHECK


Input - a craving to know more. Often you will collect and archive all kinds of information.  That sounds like a hoarder to me so I'd say CHECK


Another thing that I thought was good about this study was that it also gave some really interesting Ideas for Action.  Thought provoking questions to help you question if you're using your strengths wisely or not.  


Well am I using my stengths properly?  Some of them but the biggest realisation for me is that we don't have to focus on what we're not so good at, by focusing on what you are brilliant at, what you are made to do, I am convinced that we will enjoy our lives much more.   


        "Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?"
                                                                    Benjamin Franklin



This image was originally posted to Flickr by Muffet at http://flickr.com/photos/53133240@N00/440681335. 


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