John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD


Strengths redux

In my original post on identifying strengths, I realized there something else I wanted to say:

Ignore your weaknesses.

This flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Most of us have been coached or counseled to fix our weaknesses. If you doubt this, think back to feedback you were given in school or on a job. How much time did your evaluator spend talking about strategies for correcting weaknesses as compared to ways to bettter use your strengths?

And of course it sounds good. Who wants to be hampered by things they don’t do well?

But here’s the thing: when successful people are studied, it turns out that they don’t actually spend that much time trying to fix their weakness. It’s not that they don’t have them; they do. Rather, they figure out a way to work around them.

Sometimes that means ignoring them altogether.

Other times it means working on a weakness just enough to meet minimum requirements for a particular skill.

And still others times it means enlisting the help of other people to compensate for your weaknesses.

Whichever strategy you use, the lesson is clear: limit the amount to time you spend trying to develop your weaknesses. Throw the bulk of your energy in the direction of your strengths. You’ll go farther, you’ll go faster.

And you’ll also increase the odds of success and happiness.