It is no coincidence that people know so much more about their weaknesses than their strengths. These seven misunderstandings have a lot to do with that. Once you address them in your mind you are free to explore your strengths.
- Focusing on weaknesses will get me further
- Focusing on strengths will make me lazy
- Talking about strengths is bragging
- Just use your strengths more
- I can’t completely ignore my weaknesses
- If I do XY less I will be in trouble
- The test must be 100% right
Focusing on weaknesses will get me further
Science clearly tells us that this is not true. Using strengths makes people more successful, happy and less stressed among lots of other benefits. However these findings are competing with years of schooling where every mistake was marked red and performance reviews at work, where managers often talk for five minutes about your strengths in order to make the 45 minute talk on how to improve seem more bearable.
Focusing on strengths will make me lazy
Except this is not true either. The energy and motivation surge experienced from using strengths increases motivation and makes it more likely, that you will work more and better, simply because it’s fun and rewarding.
Talking about strengths is bragging
We all know people like that and it’s annoying. However think about it? Of the hundreds of people you know, how many who you know personally and regularly interact with brag a lot. My bet is not all that many. Of course this can be overdone however more likely than not people are silent about their strengths and that is a loss. If nobody talks about strengths there is no strengths culture. Most of the benefits of the strengths approach will simply never happen. Furthermore talking about strengths is inspiring to others if done in a humble way. It communicates, that you don’t have to be Gandhi to make a positive difference in the world. If water fountain guy can do random acts of kindness you too can do something to use your strengths and make other people’s day better.
Just use your strengths more
The more the merrier does not always work with strengths. Sure if you are completely underusing your strengths more is definitely better to begin with. However the secret to really getting the most out of your strengths is learning to manage them. That means, to understand when more is more and when less is more (this is often a situation where a different strength should be used more).
I can’t completely ignore my weaknesses
No you shouldn’t. However chances are that you have paid way more attention to your weaknesses than your strengths for the majority of your life. Engaging with strengths will not make the knowledge about your weaknesses magically disappear. It will rather balance it out. The idea is not to forget about weaknesses, it’s just to consider very carefully, how much energy needs to be spent in activities which require them.
If I do (insert your primary weakness here) less I will be in trouble
Granted there are things which take energy away from you and where you don’t exactly shine but which still need to be done. You can’t stop changing your baby’s nappies or using spreadsheets if you were hired for finance. However do you really need to do those things in every domain of your life? What happens if you reduce those behaviours in a safe environment? What can you completely leave out? All too often we assume catastrophic things will happen but if we just give it a try, we see that’s not the case.
The strengths test is scientific and therefore 100% correct
Yes lots of thought, experimentation and validation has gone into creating online strengths assessments. However sometimes you might differ from the average user. Or you are having a strange day and not necessarily answering the way you normally would. Or something has happened which required other strengths to come to the front. Whatever the reason, if you are not happy with your profile it makes sense to talk it through with someone who has experience with this. Never just assume, that you are wrong and the test is right if you can’t see yourself in the results.