3 Ways That Strengthening Your Strengths Helps Your Weaknesses Too

{3 minute read}

My 3 1/2-year-old has excitedly said “Mommy! It’s you!”, to these two fictitious fiery lady gems:
That’s right.

Maleficent, the main villain in Sleeping Beauty aka “Mistress of All Evil” and J.C. Wiatt aka Diane Keaton in Baby Boom.

Now, I have a choice to look at this one of two ways. I can choose to strengthen my knee-jerk negative thinking of the weaknesses I immediately see: neurotic, unraveling, a dictator with yellow eyes and horns. Wow…OR I can choose to look at what’s helpful. Their combined strengths: risk taker, change maker, strong minded, powerful, charismatic and focused. Thank you very much!

There’s a lot as in A LOT of debate out there focused on what’s more advantageous to you: strengthening your strengths or putting time and effort to morph your weaknesses into your assets. It’s pitting them against each other as very black and white. Very either/or. Here’s a different perspective on how focusing on your strengths may actually help out your weaknesses too.

1. Strength Building = Opportunity Building
When we focus on what we are good at doing, it naturally opens up opportunities that allow us to keep doing…just that. We build trust, credibility, and respect for those strengths. Now, I say “those” because inevitably one major strength has mini strengths involved. Are you good with people? Then you’re probably also a good listener, empathetic and curious. Are you good with numbers? Then you’re probably also detailed, patient and organized. Now, this may not always be true, but in most cases, it is. We may not love to do everything we’re good at doing but chances are we like to do some of the things that include using our strengths. This will build the bridge to move forward. It will link you to new people and new experiences. It will give you a broader scope of opportunities and give others solutions to problems that they may not be good at (or have the time or want to do themselves.)

2. Strength Building = Confidence Building
So, now you’re gaining momentum because people are acknowledging your capabilities. It’s not all about extrinsic rewards and accolades. That’s not the point here. You need to establish your own internal satisfaction first. You need to know the “why” behind what you’re doing. It always goes back to the “why” in pretty much any aspect of life. People feel “the why”. We’ll delve in there at another time. Back to confidence building… you are seeing that your strengths actually help people and put simply, they like it and you like it. This obviously makes you feel capable and appreciated. Continually increasing opportunity and confidence inevitably has you…

3. Strength Building = Collaboration Building
Realize your weaknesses. Which also has you strengthen your humility. When you are confident with what you can do and like doing, you are much more likely to acknowledge and be honest about your weaknesses. This is where we see a HUGE difference between cocky and confidence. We all have weaknesses. Like it or not. That’s what makes us whole and unique human beings. What you do with your weaknesses is the make it or break it here. So, here you are. Building bridges, paving roads and cruising along smoothly until…OOF! You hit a weakness. You can do all sorts of crowd-pleasing actions here: defend, blame, ignore OR you can realize that you need a little help. You can reach out to others who have the strengths that you may not. You can ask for their guidance, assistance or delegate to them. This allows everybody to feel a part of something. We all want to feel that we are contributing to a worthy cause. This is not to say that we shouldn’t work on our weaknesses but being aware of them is the first step to knowing what to do with them. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and sometimes asking for help is the way to go. Other times it may be helping yourself figure it out. You are the only one who knows the answer to this one. Be honest with yourself and then get on with it.

I am well aware that on my not so shiny days I can look like a horned unraveling dictator to my kids. Here’s where awareness, choice, and self-forgiveness come in. It’s not dismissing our actions. It’s choosing to focus on our strengths which in turn, softens the grip that our weaknesses have in holding us back from taking bold chances, making courageous choices and creating a long-term positive change in the world. When we choose to focus on how we can bravely contribute our gifts to the world, we naturally see our self-doubt diminish and our openness to admitting when we need a little help increase.

We see the bigger picture.

This lets us build a braver and stronger world together.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Exercise: Ask 5 people in your life to tell you what they see as your 3 greatest strengths. Ideally, the people you choose will be from different areas of your life (work, family, friends etc) to give you a broader picture. Start there. Look for any repeats. Narrow the list down to 2 or 3. Use the next few months to focus on utilizing these specific strengths (even more than you already are) and jot down any noticeable internal or external shifts. You may surprise yourself.

Strength. Courage. Dignity.  Giddy Up!!

Kudos to you!

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