We’re a bunch of contradictions – sorry to break it to you. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad; sometimes hopeful, sometimes pessimistic; sometimes childish and sometimes mature. We also have a whole load of strengths and weaknesses that affect what we do and how we do it, but tend to put more focus on our weaknesses and not our strengths.
A strength is something that you do consistently well or at a near-perfect level of performance – it’s something you’re just able to do, you’re hard-wired to do it well and you get an inherent satisfaction from doing it. It could be tackling and solving complex problems, empathizing with people, having a lively imagination or being able to make the perfect cocktail.
Focusing on what you do well rather than what you’re not so good at makes all kinds of sense. When you look at what you’re not good at you feel bad about yourself and your ability, but when you focus on and play to your strengths you’re guaranteed to get results, and can even eliminate any negative effect your weaknesses might have.
There was a guy I worked with who hated public speaking and recognized that it was one of his weaknesses. He worked as an advertising executive and as he climbed the ladder he found he had to do more and more presentations – he’d stutter, freeze, forget his point and not perform at his best at all. But when we focused on his strengths we found that he had amazing social skills, an ability to establish great rapport with people in no time at all and had a fantastic sense of humor. Using those strengths he was able to connect easily with each person in his audience, enjoy himself a whole lot more and to deliver presentations that had fun, humor and warmth in them. He used his strengths to overwhelm his weaknesses and went from strength to strength himself.