What’s your greatest strength? How about your greatest weakness? For some of us, we have answers ready to go. We know what we’re good at and can talk about these strengths at length. We also know areas that need improvement, but we’re very adept at turning these weaknesses into positives during a job interview. Unfortunately, what we communicate as strengths and weaknesses are generally surface level or related to job performance. They don’t get to the core of who we are and what we really want out of life.
Recently I heard a guy by the name of Marcus Buckingham speak at a conference. He’s the force behind The Strong Life Test which is based on the premise that our ideas of strengths and weaknesses are all wrong. We go through life believing that our strengths are what we’re good at. Even if we don’t like what we’re good at. And our weaknesses are what we’re bad at. And because they’re weaknesses, we focus on them and keep practicing over and over so we can get better.
We want to be the best we can be. But our approach is all wrong.
Whether we’re doing what we’re good at but don’t like, or focusing on what we’re bad at which makes us feel worse because we just can’t get it, we’re constantly going through the motions of life and getting drained by the minute. We may be an amazing attorney or teacher or bus driver or stay at home mom. But even though we’re good at it, we feel like there should be something more because we constantly feel empty. There’s something that’s just not right.
What’s missing? The truth about strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths aren’t what we’re good at, and weaknesses aren’t what we’re bad at. Strengths are those things that strengthen us. And weaknesses are those things that weaken us.
Think about it. Strengths make us stronger. Weaknesses make us weaker.
We can be really good at something and to this point we’ve believed it’s one of our greatest strengths. But if we don’t like it, or if we’re doing it only to pay the bills, it’s not making us stronger. Day after day it’s sucking the life out of us and making us weaker.
By the same token, there may be something that we’re not good at and we don’t enjoy (so we know it’s a weakness), but other people think we need to be doing it. So day after day we practice and commit our spare time so we’ll get better or obtain a higher degree. And we get weaker and weaker.
Both of these scenarios are weaknesses. Whether we’re good at something or not, if we dread it or it continues to bring us down, it’s a weakness. It makes us weaker.
We need to focus on our strengths. We should be promoting those things that make us feel stronger. We should be spending our time with people who encourage us and fill us up instead of those people who tear us down or wear us down. Strengths make us feel stronger. We feel good. We feel alive. We feel like we could take on the world.
What’s interesting is that Marcus Buckingham interviewed many highly successful, high profile women to find the common denominator for their strong lives. Many of these women had insane schedules and wore many hats as business owners, wives and mothers. But they all had one thing in common: what they did on a daily basis and what they focused their time on were the strengths that made them feel stronger.
It’s not about how much free time we have or how much money we have. It’s about how we spend our time and who we spend it with. Let’s find our strongest life. Let’s focus on those things and those people that make us feel stronger, and let go of those things that weaken us.
Strengths make us stronger.
Click the link if you’d like to take Marcus Buckingham’s Strong Life Test.
“‘Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’” Nehemiah 8:10
May I pray?
Lord, many of us have spent our lives pursuing things that don’t make us stronger. In reality, they weaken us more and more as time goes on. Help us today to step back and take a good hard look at what we do on a regular basis and who we do it with. May we begin to live our strongest life by focusing on those things that strengthen us to the core. And may we turn to You first in all our endeavors, for a joyful life with You is truly the foundation of strength. Amen.
Q4U: What makes you stronger, and what makes you weaker?