How to Grow Your Strengths, and Complement Your Weaknesses

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“You’re not good at Maths.”

“Your writing is appalling”.

“You’ll never learn French”.

We’ve all heard complaints from school teachers and parents at some point in our lifetime.

The funny thing is, they ask us to improve our weaknesses.

Does that sound unfair to you?

We can’t all be the next Shakespeare, Einstein or Mozart. But we can identify our own strengths and develop them rather than to force ourselves “to improve”. (And no, my derivatives never did).

Grow Your Strengths

Tim Roth is the writer of the influential book Strengthsfinder. It follows the school of strength psychology, developed by Dr. Donald O. Clifton. He asked this wise question back in 1952:

“What would actually happen if we study what is right with people?”

Did this question resonate with you too?

Imagine the difference in approach. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, you begin to unlock your strengths. In the process, you dig in to your interests and if you’re lucky you unearth your passion. And you nurture them.

I read the book and it changed the way I view myself. I gave up on derivatives a long time ago.

Instead I moved to Australia to study communications, creative writing and Spanish. It’s funny, because the rest took care of itself. That’s what happens when you study what’s “right with people”. It’s what happens when you decide to grow your strengths.

But No… You Must Be “All-Round”

I know a few people who can master everything with ease. They’re in the minority and I both praise and admire them. Most of us only have a few strong suits and we must learn to develop them so we can make a meaningful contribution to this world.

As we evolve, our subject areas become more specialised.

I’ve met professors who specialise in everything from Don Quijote to copyright law. We need these specialists; we need these people who have devoted their lives to what they do.

Learn to Complement Your Weaknesses

Being bad at something is actually useful. You’ll have to call in your friends and look around for people who can help you. You need to get yourself a party crew.

Not good at Maths? Make friends with an actuarial.

Is your writing appalling? Ask a friend to look over it. If you can find yourself an editor friend, all the better. They’re good with words.

Does your French truly suck? Relax. It’s the official language in 29 countries. That gives you some 129 million people to help you.

It’s human connection at its best.

Do yourself a favour: Focus on your strengths and complement your weaknesses.

Sure, your Maths can improve, as can your writing and your language skills. But is it really worth it just so you can prove your teachers wrong?

Flickr Photo by Shonk.

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4 responses to “How to Grow Your Strengths, and Complement Your Weaknesses”

  1. Tal Oriana Rogoff Avatar

    ‘Polylingual life enthusaist’? That has to be the most amazing term ever and it’s SO you! KRAM

    1. Olle Lindholm Avatar

      Oh, thanks Tal! I try my best 😀 I will actually be teaching Spanish and Swedish soon. I’ve got a few lessons I want to put up on this website, so more on that later. Stay tuned! Kram! Hugs indeed!

  2. Zef Avatar

    This article is really inspiring. If you focus on your weaknesses, you end up losing your strengths because you are not developing them, as you are losing time developing you weaknesses. No-one is praised or make difference by using his/her weaknesses. Thks for the article

    1. Olle Lindholm Avatar

      Hi Zef!

      Thanks for your kind words! Keep working on those bright spots 🙂

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