It’s often suggested that what we’re not good at is a weakness.
E.g. she’s not great at negotiation, it’s a weakness of hers.
Therefore, what we are good at is a strength.
E.g. she’s so good at walking into a room and engaging with people, it’s such a strength of hers.
Using this line of thinking it would follow then that the activities, tasks or attributes that we would consider weaknesses of ours are in fact separate, disconnected and disassociated with our strengths.
What if our weaknesses were not disconnected from our strengths but actually sitting at the other end of the spectrum of something we’re really good at? ‘Hidden in plain sight’ (but pretty detrimental to us if not understood).
I can’t play the violin, is this a weakness?
If we look at violin-playing as an activity, I’m pretty lousy (as my poor mother would testify after the teacher politely suggested to her after the 5th lesson that I may be better off choosing another instrument, or better yet – go and play sport).
Is the fact that I cannot play the violin impacting my life?
Is it impacting anyone else’s life?
So therefore, is it a weakness?
What about when strengths go rogue?
Let’s take a look at a strong attribute of mine then, something I’m great at – focus.
Focus is a term used to denote one of my dominant strengths on the CliftonStrengths assessment – the official definition is:
People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritise, then act.*
Now in its best form Focus plays out with me being disciplined and purposeful. I am the ultimate goal-setter.
In its worst form, Focus can ‘turn nasty’ – I can become totally absorbed, too intense and increasingly stressed.
So at my best, I can be a great benefit to a team, keeping everyone on track, all with a keen sense of the direction we’re heading in, everything will be beautifully prioritised for maximum benefit and momentum. However, recognising and understanding where this can push over into being too stressed, too intense and pushing the team too far is just as important, if not more important.
My violin-playing, or lack thereof is not causing harm to me or anyone else around me – it is not a weakness of mine it is simply something I choose not to pursue.
Of course, this is not to say that if it were negatively impacting either myself or others around me it shouldn’t be managed or worked on, but we’re often more aware of areas at which we’re not as strong. It’s the negative versions of our strengths that are really where the main opportunities lie for personal and professional growth.
Self awareness is the key to unlocking our greater levels of performance and potential. Once aware of the fact our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses we can recognise, course-correct and ensure we intentionally stay on the positive end of the spectrum.
Want to understand your key strengths and those of your team and more importantly, how they could be playing out as weaknesses? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat about an in-house session.
Disclaimer: the topics and suggestions discussed on the momentum life project are intended to be general in nature and the information does not constitute individual advice nor take into account your personal circumstances. Always seek the advice of a trained health professional with any questions you may have and before seeking any treatment.
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