I am attending a small business support group right now. We meet once a week to focus on our challenges, talk about our successes, and learn new concepts and action steps we can take. Since each person, or partnership, in the group is given time to share personal stories and ideas there’s plenty of opportunity for me to hear about the struggles and difficulties others are facing, learn from them, and try not to make the same mistakes.
Interestingly enough, I also see how easily people live through their weaknesses. A couple of nights ago, during the meeting, I shared just a little bit about starting my coaching business and what it was all about. After I did somebody started sharing about the problems they were facing in their business, the difficulties they were having with the various employees, and a few other challenges. When she asked the group for some suggestions on what she could do, I offered the idea that taking a strengths-based approach to the business could dramatically change their approach, unlock some untapped talents, and really help others engage more in solving the problems. The answer I got surprised me.
In short, what I heard in response was, “I don’t know. Living our of your strengths is so hard. It’s easier living through your weaknesses. At least I know what the weaknesses are and if I spend time fixing them then I can feel like I’m doing something productive.”
I decided not to say anything in the moment, mostly because I didn’t think it would help. It sounded like the person’s mind was made up and my pressing the point wouldn’t really do any good. In truth, though, I was screaming inside. “No! No, you’ve got it all wrong! It’s actually much, much harder to live through your weaknesses. Spending time, energy, and effort to fix weaknesses, while ignoring strengths, is a sure-fire way to reduce effectiveness, disengage employees, and create more problems,
When we live through our strengths we are living in ways that tap into naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied. We become energized just thinking about what we are going to do. We generate power and capacity when we act on those strengths. Our minds are sharper, our thoughts are clearer, and our desire to get things done increases. I know that it sounds like fixing our weaknesses will be more productive, but in fact, it’s just the opposite.
Myth: It’s easier to live focus on fixing our weaknesses and harder to work on improving our strengths.
Truth: Working on our strengths is more energizing, more invigorating, and more fun. Fixing our weaknesses is demanding, draining, and debilitating.
Moral: Strengthen your strengths if you want to really be productive and manage around your weaknesses so they don’t cause failure in your life.