The Myth of Strengths and Weaknesses

Our modern day school system would have us believe that if we’re weak in a subject (Math, English etc.) that we should study longer, harder and smarter in order to make our weakness stronger.

This can be a healthy thing for us early in life; we all need to spell, read, and count money to a minimum sustainable level. But why do we believe we need to develop a personal strength in business where none exists? Shouldn’t you fix those weaknesses? The answer is a resounding NO!

The strengths and weaknesses I’m talking about aren’t deficits in knowledge or experience. I’m speaking strictly to innate talents or traits that you cannot develop in a training program or by reading a book. There is a myth about these natural strengths and weaknesses, one that states we all naturally possess them.

In reality, we don’t…

What we do possess are natural talents and non-talents, but these are not the same as strengths and weaknesses. In reality, you only have potential strengths and potential weaknesses.

You can’t disguise a weakness as an opportunity for development. It’s ridiculous to think I can fix a weakness by developing it into a strength. If one of my clients is suffering from a weakness I tell them so; but, the key is that this weakness isn’t natural, it’s manufactured.

This can be challenging to understand…

Let me explain. When you allow your success to depend on your talents, you create strengths. When you allow your success to depend on your non-talents, you create weaknesses.

Think of talents and non-talents like two boxes. The first box contains a gift (talent) and comes all gift wrapped with a bow. The second box contains trouble (non-talent) and is marked Pandora’s box. Regardless of the contents, however, each box only contains potential. The first box is only potentially good, the latter only potentially bad. Nothing happens until you actually open the boxes.

Talents and non-talents work in very much the same way. If you never rely on your talents (open the gift box) than you never realize the strengths contained inside. Likewise, if you never rely on your non-talents (open Pandora’s box) then you never suffer the weaknesses contained inside.

“Your job is to make the strengths of your people more effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” ~ Peter Drucker – Management Consultant and The Father of Modern Business Management

What controls this potential is how you apply yourself. If you have a non-talent for strategic thinking and create dependence on that non-talent by selling strategic planning consulting to your clients, you just manufactured a weakness. If you make sure your success doesn’t depend on you being a great strategic planner, however, then you don’t manufacture a weakness for yourself. That non-talent remains only a potential weakness.

When you make this shift in perspectives and realize that any weaknesses you have only exist because you manufactured them, you should also realize that you could correct it by removing that dependence.

The most successful consultants understand this. They know that they are the only ones responsible for whether they benefit from strengths or suffer from weaknesses. They don’t spend their time trying to fix their weaknesses. Instead they just make sure their success doesn’t depend on their non-talents.

To make sure you don’t manufacture any weaknesses, be sure to create a role for yourself that relies as much as possible on your natural strengths and as little as possible on your weaknesses. Give specific thought to what services you will provide and ask yourself if you’re manufacturing a weakness by doing so. Take a look at the duties you have inside your own business. Are there tasks or responsibilities for which you have a weakness, yet you’re the one who must do them? Could they be outsourced?

About Jay Niblick

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