The question people ask me most often about strengths is, “But what about my weaknesses?”

This used to seem ironic to me, but over the years I’ve realised that most people can’t start focusing on their strengths until they (at least begin to) make peace with their weaknesses.

If I had a magic coaching wand, I would wave your worries about weaknesses away. Instead, I offer these three wisps of wisdom:

  1. You will never be perfect, even if you spend the rest of your life trying. I spent much of my life trying and can vouch for this. Even if we call them ‘areas for improvement’ or ‘lesser strengths,’ there will still be some things that you aren’t very good at. And that’s okay — you’re only human.
  2. Worrying about weaknesses is really common. There’s a powerful, primitive part of your brain that could be called “Worry About Weaknesses HQ” instead of the amygdala. It is on constant alert for any ways you might be vulnerable and, these days, that can mean everything from being mugged to being excluded by the cool group. Or passed over for promotion. Or cut from the team. Or gaining too much weight to look good in your red cocktail dress. Or, or, or…
  3. If a weakness is truly causing you problems, professionally or personally, you should deal with it. Otherwise, you could just let it go — and play to your strengths instead.

Sail with strengths — or wallow with weaknesses

Happy sailing!

Happy sailing!

Think of yourself as a sailboat. Your weaknesses are the water splashing onto the deck or the cracks in the hull. If there’s no risk of sinking, just swab it up and carry on. If you develop a big leak, fix it. Even with a watertight hull, however, you’ll still wallow in the water unless you hoist the sails.

The sails are your strengths. They will catch the wind and give you momentum and direction.

Over the course of your voyage, you’ll need to pay attention to both your leaks and your sails. But it’s your sails that will get you where you want to go.

How do you feel about and deal with your weaknesses?