I was talking with a colleague recently – and he had decided to take some aggressive action to make big changes in his life by focusing on his strengths. He started by asking those close to him to give him 2 lists: his top 5 core strengths and his top 5 key weaknesses.
My first thought was, how courageous.
I’ve done similar things before, and I’m not sure I’d go out and do it again. Oh, I’ll bite the bullet and ask for strengths, but it takes more courage to ask for weaknesses other people see in me. I mean, I know I have them, and others know I have them – so do we need to talk about them?
Lately though, I’ve begun to consider whether it’s worth the effort and energy to focus on removing or overcoming our weaknesses? Or, maybe, that distracts us from focusing on developing and learning to leverage our strengths and skills.
As human beings, living on earth, we have a finite supply of time and energy. And most people I know are trying to figure out how to leverage and make the most of both in their lives. I wonder, if we focus on our weaknesses, and deal with those, are we really just getting in our way?
Is focusing on weaknesses just another form of distraction from our real goals?
However, if we focus on learning to manage and control and use our strengths, our skills, effectively in all circumstances, that would move us closer to where we want to be, and to whom we want to be. Recent research (from Dr. Caroline Leaf, Ph.D., author of Who Switched Off My Brain? and The Gift in You) indicates that by focusing on our strengths, our brain will naturally begin to shore up our weaknesses on its own. Now how cool is that?
I find for myself and my clients, focusing on strengths is where our power, enthusiasm, and energy come from.
Focusing on our weaknesses tends to be disappointing, depressing, and draining. Focusing on the weaknesses also tends to provide excuses for not moving ahead, for not living or embracing the life we want.
However, focusing on strengths – that’s empowering. Dare I say it, satisfying.
I have spent a lifetime looking at both strengths and weaknesses, of individuals, groups, systems, organizations. It is easy to say “this is broken, fix it”. It is more challenging to say “this is good, let’s make it better, use it more effectively.”
Today I’m convinced the real super power to change truly lie in our strengths, and focusing our attention there.
I invite you to challenge yourself by focusing on your strengths for 1 week. Let me know what happens.