Are weaknesses back in fashion?

What we have here my friend are your strengths and over here, are what we call your “development opportunities”.  Does that sound like a Tui billboard to you? It’s starting to for me. Feedback surveys, personality profiles, our own development assessments all mention our development opportunities.  What they’re talking about of course are our weaknesses.

Strength-bases approaches to life have been around a while.  I’m reading Marcus Buckingham’s book Go put your strengths to work (actually I’m listening to the audio book in the car – please don’t interupt me on my handsfree when I’m into it!). Getting this book was one of those random acts while passing near the public library that has tied a lot of my thinking of recent times together nicely. Thanks Marcus.

  • When I have encouraged my sons to go with their passion at school, it is because I truly believe that whatever your career, if you’re doing what you are passionate about then you will be happy. Happiness is a reason to exist.
  • When I go through numbers quickly “cos I can” but feel nothing, it’s a skill, but there’s no passion, so it’s not a strength.  I do it as a necessity but that’s all.
  • I believe I know a little bit about facilitation and I enjoy it.  In fact, I’m what you might call “in the groove” when I’m facilitating. That’s got to be a strength (you be the judge of course on that one – I might be the only one in the groove).

Buckingham says that to be a strength you need skill, a talent and …. passion ….  for it to be a strength. Are you good at something that doesn’t spin your wheels? Forget it, it’s not a strength. It’s a drudgery, and the worst sort because people keep asking you to do it.

So are weaknesses back in fashion? I think that they are. Front up to them because trying to improve them will distract you from the exponential gains in exerting the same effort to your strengths.  And your weaknesses will be someone else’s strengths. So I”m looking forward to next weeks Authentic Leadership Course where I’m sure I’ll be in the groove.

Work on your strengths and become a world-beater.  That’s a great way to fashion your life.


ps was looking for a “fashion” photograph and found this little cracker of Mum and us kids – I’m sure Dad was taking the photo. I’m making the fashion statement in yellow.

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3 thoughts on “Are weaknesses back in fashion?

  1. Hi Stephen,

    Nice post.

    I don’t know if you caught this when I posted it last week and it’s also on the witeboard in our kitchen 🙂 Anyway this is an excerpt from John Wills blog i’ve been reading. It’s kind of relevent here and highlights the necessity in life to embrace your weaknesses and learn from them. Thought you’d enjoy it:

    “Innovation is naturally driven by necessity and circumstance, and our capacity for creativity seems boundless; but it is when we are cut loose from the confines of familiarity that we can truly tap into our innovative potential. Becoming more innovative is more about familiarizing ourselves with risk, and less about staying with the tried and true.

    Ideas spread if they have survival value. In this sense, they are subject to evolutionary forces in a similar way to living things. Good ideas survive and propagate; bad ideas die a natural death. Ideas that other people have about us, also spread and propagate. What ideas these are, depends much on how we go about our work and how we live our lives. Building a solid reputation begins with making small promises and living up to them.

    We become more innovative as we let our ego’s go. The less attached we are to having to win or needing to be right, or be comfortable, or be safe, then the more risks we will take and the more things we discover. It is a process that shouldn’t frighten anyone; there is great joy to be had in discovering things; even if some of these things highlight our shortcomings; perhaps even, especially if they do.

    Best wishes

    John B Will”


  2. Well said! Yes, following one’s passion is possibly the most important advice for young people – career, life choices etc. It’s the key to finding happiness, simply because we are following something we feel is an integral part of who we are, and which we want to express – our creativity, special gift, or unique skills at something. Sometimes just a word of encouragement to someone can ignite or awaken passion for something untried, and revealing strengths they didn’t know they had.

    Re the photo. Yes, I was the photographer! This would have been about the time or soon after when colour negative film became available in New Zealand – at least in Christchurch.


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