by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
~ Malcolm S. Forbes
Ask someone about their weaknesses and they will easily provide you with an extensive list of their perceived deficiencies. Ask them about their strengths and they will often pause for a moment or two before they finally come up with a strength. This phenomenon is a pretty familiar one to me in my client work in the career and leadership development realms. Why does this type of response consistently happen? Let me explain…….
You often fail to recognize and feel connected to your strengths because they exist as your normal way of being in the world. Perhaps your strength is creativity or problem solving; perhaps it’s kindness, connecting with others or intuition. You naturally utilize your strengths or natural gifts from a place that is outside of your conscious awareness. Similar to unencumbered breathing, you just do it without much thought or effort. It’s just who you are. To others, however, your natural way of being in the world appears as a strength. Learning to recognize, honor and intentionally focus on utilizing your strengths often results in your perceived weaknesses significantly diminishing.
I invite you to experiment with a strengths-based focus for a week. If you find it challenging to come up with a strength to focus on, ask someone who is close to you or a work colleague to identify one of your strengths. Focus on intentionally utilizing this strength for a week and notice the shifts in your perception of and relationship to your “strengths” and “weaknesses.”
For additional insights and observations, check out the following links: