For a fair portion of my career I worked under the assumption that the purpose of development courses or workshops was to help me discover my weaknesses, and then provide me with what I needed to improve them.
I wasn’t alone.
I don’t think focusing on your weaknesses can make you a better contributor to your team or your company.
1. You miss the obvious. When you work at discovering the things you are not good at, you ignore the very things you are in fact good at.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think everyone is good at everything. I’m not, and you aren’t.
Yes, there are exceptional people whom you believe to be expert at everything they do. Truth is, they are most likely only experts at everything in their own eyes.
No one does everything equally well. Some things will stand out.
Equally true: No one lacks any strengths. Each and every person has something they are good at, something they can contribute to the conversation, to the effort, to the team.
2. You miss the motivation. When you work to improve weaknesses, you have to generate vast external sources of energy to stay with the task.
Whereas trying to improve your weaknesses takes incredible effort, using your strengths in increasing measure brings ever increasing levels of internal motivation..
3. You misread success. Whereas working from strengths is internally motivating and internally affirming, weaknesses are discouraging, reinforcing the things you know you don’t do well.
When you attempt to improve your weaknesses you are by definition identifying those things you have failed at in the past. You are looking at the past with unrealistic eyes. You know what you didn’t get done, what you didn’t do, what you in fact failed at.
And with that deep look, you are calling it success.
Having someone affirm the thing you did poorly doesn’t make it a success. It just gives you a false sense of well being.
4. You miss opportunities. When you look intensely at your weaknesses, you begin to process what you encounter with the wrong viewpoint because you cannot see great opportunities accurately.
If you are convinced that the first step in success is knowing what your weaknesses are, and then seeking to improve them, you are subtly training yourself to find failure.
That’s all you are looking for.
You miss the obvious in favor of the flawed.
5. You misunderstand who you are and what you are made to be. There are more than enough people in the world who will tell you where you fail. There are more than enough who will hammer your shortcomings. Why internalize those things and call it good?
I am not speaking about moral concerns here. I believe there is absolute Truth, and objective standards.
What I don’t believe is that the negativity that permeates workplaces and schools and organizations and, yes, families, needs to be something we internalize.
We are created in the image of God, and are capable of amazing things. We are creative by Design. Yet, we focus on the wrong things too many times. We see only the imperfections, the flaws, the inabilities, and we call them good.
I believe that trying to strengthen those things that are not your strengths is simply wasted effort. You don’t need to focus on the things you are not strong at when you could be spending your time doing those very things that bring energy, positive feedback, and excellent experiences.
That’s my thought. What do you think?