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Home > Blog: Work/Life > Poll: Is it Better to Work on Strengths or Weaknesses?

Poll: Is it Better to Work on Strengths or Weaknesses?

Everyone Has Strengths and Weaknesses

A couple months ago, my manager had our whole team take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 Assessment test. I'm a sucker for quizzes, questionnaires, and personality tests, so I was delighted. I went into it curious to find out about my strengths. What I didn't expect was that learning about my strengths would give me a whole new way of looking at my weaknesses.

It seems ridiculous that I had never considered the concept that your strengths and weaknesses are not automatically good and bad, respectively. Rather, they're neutral facts about how you happen to operate in the world—especially the world of work.

Today I read a post along these same lines by career coach Heather Mundell on her blog, life@work. I liked the way she stated it:

"Everyone has blind spots, skills that don't come so easily, and ways of being that are never going to change so awfully much. Setting out to eliminate your weaknesses is a losing strategy."

Now, no one is saying you should ignore your negative, hurtful, or destructive traits (some behaviors can and should be corrected). Nor is anyone telling you to give up if you're not instantly an expert at something. Far from it!

What they're saying is: If you're an adult and you've "always" sucked at math, for example, don't keep taking math classes! Buy a calculator, hire an accountant, and (as a magnet on my mother's refrigerator used to say) "Do what you do do well."

StrengthsFinder author Tom Rath reminds us that even basketball legend Michael Jordan "could not become, well, the 'Michael Jordan' of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried."

The concept of building strengths rather than correcting weaknesses can have both long- and short-term implications for your career. In the long run, you'll probably be happier and more successful by maximizing your strengths. And if you're currently immersed in a job search and face the ubiquitous interview question, What are your weaknesses?, you can answer without shame: "I'm not a whiz at  _____  never have been, never will be. But I've developed some great strategies for working around that. And I am the Michael Jordan of  _____ !"

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