Focus on Your Strengths NOT Your Weaknesses

In today’s episode of the Inspiration2grow podcast we are tackling a very interesting topic – how to place more focus on your strengths versus getting bogged down about your shortcomings or your weaknesses.

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” ~ Marilyn vos Savant

Nowadays, we live in a “fix it” world.

A world in which we are quick to notice what’s wrong or broken about our lives, and we are the last to notice what’s going well.

Can you relate to this?

We, as humans, are inherently bias to negativity because we tend to focus are too much and far too often on the ‘bad’.
Of course, back in the days of earliest survival, back in the days of cavemen and women, this was quite helpful when running from a sabretooth tiger and avoiding poisonous berries.

You see, focusing on the bad is or better said, WAS a survival technique.

But now, quite the opposite is helpful.  Most of the time, this tendency to negativity only leaves us in a perpetual state of “not enoughness”.

And, this leads to us spending a vast majority of our time trying to fix the broken parts of us – namely our weaknesses.

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you in order to grow your mindset and skillset, you have to lean into the uncomfortable as well as put in the effort to develop new skills in areas which you want to improve.

However, throughout the improvement process, it is not at all super helpful to focus too much on the areas you aren’t good at.  This only leads to becoming de-motivated or discouraged or worse.

Instead, I want to encourage you to look for your strengths and the things that are going well – researchers call these “bright spots”.

Spend more time on replicating the times that went well and figuring out why and how they went so well, analyzing the positive moments and your strength during those moments. Don’t spend your precious time and brain power on trying to eliminate weaknesses or fix problems.

You’ll feel much more empowered by figuring out your strengths and drawing power from those experiences.

It seems to be in our DNA to concentrate on our areas of weakness and then focus attention on trying to overcome these, rather than giving ourselves credit for and becoming self-aware of our strengths.  It is simply a waste of time and energy to focus on the negative.  Placing your focus on your weaknesses will drain you. 
I came across a great quote by Marcus Buckingham that goes like this, “You should focus on your strengths and build on them.  It is a myth that our greatest potential for growth is your areas of weakness.  Focusing on them will demotivate you while focusing on your strengths will help you feel more positive and so give you energy.”

But he goes on to warn us not to confuse strengths with things we consider ourselves good at.  There’s a difference.  Just because you are good at something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you enjoy it. Doing something well, but not enjoying it will also drain you.  So, he advises people to consider what you are good at and find enjoyment it and do more of that.
Most of my podcast talks are geared toward the individual but the importance of focusing on strengths over weaknesses could apply to teams, work cultures, groups, leaders as well as individuals of any age.  Research has shown that we have a better chance at winning by focusing on our strengths – either in a group scenario or as an individual – than if we focus on improving our deficiencies.  So, it’s imperative that we capitalize on our capabilities to feel empowered and successful on our own or as part of a team.

What kind of frame of mind will you be in if you put more thought into what you do well?  This makes you feel accomplished and capable as opposed to dwelling on what went wrong yesterday.

Just imagine the power of a positive mindset for a child leaving for his/her school day and a scheduled math test.  If you help your child to focus on past tests that were well done, received a good grade and uplifting remarks from the teacher, that child’s outlook and attitude could possibly shift from an anxious, nervous, ‘not going to do well’ mindset -> to a positive, “I got this” mindset.

Focus on strengths rather than weaknesses to shift your mindset from a negative state to a positive outlook.  You can achieve this by recalling past events, situations or experiences where things went well for you.  Focus on how you did it, what went right, how you felt and how you can replicate the moment.
Having said that, this brings us to the slightly uncomfortable part of today’s show.

Most of us can list several things we simply don’t like about ourselves.

And, you’ve probably received feedback on “areas you could improve on” from others that usually just feels like outright criticism, sometimes solicited but more times their feedback comes unsolicited.

What happens then? Well, we become self-conscious.  We try to overcompensate. We usually try to overcome our weaknesses instead of playing to our strengths.

But, I am here to challenge this pattern that you and I have been following most of our lives.

Let’s reverse the pattern by acknowledging our strengths.

Sometimes it’s not so easy to identify our strengths.  On the other hand, our weaknesses are far too obvious.  We are constantly reminded of times when we fell short of the mark or couldn’t produce our best work or felt extremely uncomfortable dealing with a situation.  This happens because weaknesses often carry clear, vivid reminders of some past suffering we experienced. 

In order to realize our strengths, we will have to dig deeper.  You might have received unexpected praise for something you didn’t put much effort into – that could be a sign.  If people talk your ear off, you could be a good listener.  Maybe people constantly seek out your advice, you might be a great leader or problem-solver.
Every day life has a way of showing you what your strengths are IF you pay attention.

Another way to identify strengths is by figuring out what energizes you.  Strengths make us feel strong whereas weaknesses leave us feeling weak.  So, think of activities in terms of how they make you feel. 

Normally, I would ask you to put pen to paper and make a list of strengths versus weaknesses, but I would like to approach this self-analysis exercise on your strengths by posing some questions to you.

1.        What are you a natural at?  What comes easily to you that others find difficult and may struggle   with?  ->  Find and leverage that ability.
2.       What does reflection tell you about yourself? -> Spend some time reflecting, the create a list of 5 things you consistently receive awesome feedback on.
3.       What makes you feel good? ->  Remember that working on things we need to improve, drains you of energy.  But working from a place of strength, brings us joy and makes us happy.  Think about things you do that make you happy.
4.       What should you focus on? -> You can reach your highest potential by focusing on what you do best.  So, start building on what you already are, not what you are not.
If you want to improve your life, you will have to learn what your strengths are and align yourself with them.  When we play to our best self, the results are positive, productive and empowering.

It is important to play to your own individual strengths because our strengths are gifts that were meant to be used and shared with the world. 

My only hope is that you start to implement some of the ideas, tips and strategies that I talk about and I would love to know which ones have been beneficial for you personally.

That’s my message for today, friends.

I would also like to invite you to become part of the Inspiration2grow community on Facebook.  The group name is: Inspiration2grow for Female Goal-getters.  It is meant to be a community of like-minded women who want to grow strong from the inside out.  There will be daily journalling prompts, nutrition and fitness tips, exercises to try, encouraging conversations among the community and lots more.  So, be sure to join this group for support, new ideas and the necessary rocket fuel to propel your health and wellness to new heights.

You owe it to yourself to take care of yourself, show up for yourself and become the best version of YOU.

In case you haven’t heard it yet today, let me be the first to tell you…
You are incredible, capable and your potential is limitless.  Never forget that and I believe in you 100%.  Now, go out there and show the world what you are truly made of.

I hope to have inspired you to grow.

Til next time,



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