I'm a huge fan of personal development—because that's what self-leadership is all about—but there's definitely a tendency to focus a lot of time on our weak areas, instead of improving upon our strengths.

I've got my own share of weaknesses, just like everyone else. It's a constant battle to stay humble, and I'm prone to working too much without leaving enough time for family or rest.

I need to work on that.

How many times have you heard that phrase? “I need to work on that.”

It's usually true, especially when it comes to our faults that affect others the most. We need to work on that.

But people focus an incredible amount of time and effort on improving their weaknesses when they would be better off focusing on their strengths.

I'm not asking you to ignore your shortcomings—that would not be wise. But as my wife so simply put it, “Trying to lead with your weaknesses is like trying to write with your left hand.”

“‘Trying to lead with your weaknesses is like trying to write with your left hand.' – @TheRachelMeese”

You can work on your weaknesses all you like—and you just might improve a little. But what if, instead, you focused on growing your strengths?

That's the central theme of StrengthsFinders 2.0, a Gallup book by Tom Rath about finding what it is you do best (and doing more of that).

The book comes with access to a survey, which is designed to identify your top five strengths.

Once you know these strengths, you can lean on them to compensate for the weaknesses you might otherwise have displayed.

I took StrengthsFinders 2.0 for the first time only months ago, and my results helped me better understand who I am and who I may become.

Here are my top five strengths:

  1. Strategic. This strength is what allows me to sort through massive amounts of information and pull out key points or facts while mentally discarding the irrelevant. I see patterns and systems where others might see unrelated facts.
  2. Individualization. I'm intrigued by the unique qualities of each person, and gain satisfaction from helping other people succeed. Once I get to know someone, I can often predict how they'll react in a given situation.
  3. Achiever. I like lists. I like goals. I take satisfaction in being productive (though not for productivity's sake alone). I'm constantly looking to leave a positive influence on an individual, culture, or world.
  4. Belief. I'm driven by a set of core values that don't really change, and together these values form a purpose for my life. I can envision a future without the problems we have now, and I'm always looking for ways to help us grow closer to that world.
  5. Responsibility. I hold myself accountable for my goals, values, and results. I work harder and achieve more, whenever high expectations are set (even if I'm the only one who set them in the first place).

“Once you know your strengths, you can embrace them—and be confident in who you truly are.”

Question: Have you taken the StrengthsFinders assessment before? What were your results?


John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the CEO of Cowork Inc, co-founder of Notable, and regularly publishes interviews and insight at JohnMeese.com.

6 thoughts on “Do You Focus More on Your Weaknesses or Your Strengths?

  1. Great post, John. StrengthFinders is outstanding. I love how it affirms how God uniquely made each of us. My top strength is Learner–followed by Analytical, Input, Intellection and Connectedness. Your post today reminds me to review my strengths. You also inspired me to take the test again. To update. Highly recommended, indeed. Meantime, kind thanks for your great site. Best regards, too, to your smart and beautiful wife. Onward!

    1. Thanks Patricia! And that’s great, Learner is my wife’s #1 strength. I’m trying to make it a habit to periodically review my strengths and rethink what I do based on that, glad to hear you’re working on that too! And I’ll pass your kind words along to my wife 😉

        1. One more quick thing. My husband’s key strength is WOO. (He’s extroverted big time) StrengthFinders helped us understand and appreciate each other’s personal style as a strength. (We’ve been married 38 years.) Never too late to learn about yourself and your spouse, too. Thanks again!

  2. I have taken the StrengthFinders test and I remember that I’m a Maximizer.

    I also enjoyed reading Marcus Buckingham’s books, like “Now, Discover Your Strengths”. When I was a sales manager in my corporate career, they gave us the D.I.S.C. test and the Myers-Briggs test and they were scarily accurate!

    I love focusing on my strengths and by having my own blogging business, I can. I used to hate corporate year-end reviews where my director would say ‘Sue, you are great at X.Y,Z but you really need to work on your weaknesses this year”. I knew I would never get good at them but I could excel by focusing on my strengths.

    Thanks for the great post (and your wife keeping you on track!)

    1. Yeah, I totally get that. I think year-end reviews that focus on weaknesses are well-meaning, but they really do miss the mark. I haven’t taken the D.I.S.C. test yet, but I’m actually planning on it very soon! So far StrengthsFinders is the best assessment like this I’ve seen.

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