How trying to improve on your weaknesses actually robs you of strength
“You’re just not trying hard enough.”
“You just have to work harder.”
“You can do better if you just apply yourself more.”
Are you one of the many adults who can still hear these or similar phrases from childhood? With the best intentions in the world, the parents and teachers who shared these comments did a really good job of setting up kids for a future of frustration and less-than-brilliant performance.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to have a happy (and productive) childhood, and you can start now to forget those lessons and learn healthier ones.
What’s so bad about trying to improve a weakness?
Actually, there’s a lot that’s bad about it if you take it to extremes:
- the whole focus of “improving weaknesses” is remediation, which is not a positive focus, which means it saps your energy
- chances are that you won’t improve weaknesses to the point where they become actual strengths, so there’ll always be that feeling of “not good enough”, which also saps energy
- even if you put a lot of effort into improving your weaknesses, chances are you won’t get past the level of adequacy (put another, somewhat harsher way: you’ll still be mediocre in those areas); the world is already full of mediocre performers, and there’s no real advantage to operating at a higher level of mediocrity
- time spent trying to improve your weaknesses is time not available to further polishing your strengths, which are what make you stand out from the competition to begin with
It makes more sense to hone your existing strengths.
Just think how you feel when you’re doing something you’re already good at. You’re confident, focused, energized. Now imagine spending time getting even better at that activity. What couldn’t you do with even more confidence, focus, and energy? If you’re already a 7 or 8 out of 10, then becoming a 9 will mean you have even less competition and more stature as an expert in your field.
Strength begets strength. Stay strong.
What sort of results have you gotten by playing to your strengths? Share your success stories with us; this is a place where justifiable horn tooting is welcome!