Everyone on the planet has both strengths and weaknesses.
We know that one of the most progressive ways to success and happiness is to harness our strengths.
For example, one of my greatest strengths is empathy. As a coach, empathy improves my listening skills and the ability to understand my client and have a conversation with impact.
But what about our weaknesses, and can we harness our strengths to strengthen the areas that we fear will let us down or hold us back?
The answer is an absolute yes. To demonstrate, let me give you an example of how it works:
I had a conversation with a young TY student recently. This young lady is exceptionally bright and academic. She explained that she had decided which degree she planned to acquire post leaving cert. At 540 points, her presenting issue was how to meet the challenge and her fears that she might not make the cut.
She was confident in most subjects, but English and Irish were never her strongest subjects. She feared that they might let her down.
“Let’s look at your strengths for a moment?” I invited.
“Well, I’m good at Maths, and I am confident with business, economics and geography (except the long questions in geography).”
“What is it that makes you good at these subjects?” I asked.
“Well, they are mainly about strategy, solutions and problem-solving. I’m good at that.” She expressed.
“OK. So, why do you feel you lose marks in English, for example?”
“Because everyone says that you just need to waffle your way through the essays and questions, and I can’t waffle.”
I took a mindful breath and parked my raging bias. Flashbacks of writing my 100,000-word novel while painfully developing the skill of making every single word count played like a movie in my mind. Along with the stress, worry, and every insecurity that all writers are all too familiar with. Another deep, mindful breath, I parked my now dissipating bias and asked:
“And what do you think – is it really waffle, or is there more to it?”
“Well, our English teacher explained that there is a structure to writing essays and that we need to feel a sense of the character’s world in plays and novels when answering those questions.”
After discussing a little more, I asked my young academic:
“So, what I’m hearing is that you are solution-focused and thrive on strategy and problem-solving. These are your strengths. How can you apply these strengths to attain the grades in English and Irish?”
After a few moments of deep and intense thought, she replied:
“Well, if I work out a strategy that will enable me to learn the skill of essay writing and stay solution-focused, I reckon I can do it. In fact, last year we had to write about Romeo and Juliet. I followed the instructions (strategy) my teacher gave us and really applied them. In doing so, I increased my grade by 30%.” She mused.
“Excellent. What was the difference that made the difference that one time?” I asked.
Behind the bashfulness of this 16-year-old student emerged her newfound clarity:
“I suppose I took a strategic approach, and I really applied my teacher’s instructions. Then I got into it, and the words just came”.
Moments before, this young lady was stuck, feeling that her inability to waffle was her greatest weakness and would impede her success.
She now realised that taking a strengths-focused approach as her starting point enabled her to engage with the task confidently, enter flow and release her creativity and natural intelligence.
When we approach our weaknesses with a mindset that thinks, “I’m not good at this,” we become stuck and block our internal resource to succeed.
However, when we focus on our strengths and start there, we enable our natural intelligence to release untapped resource and not only succeed but surpass what our fixed mindset once believed.
Effectively, we use our strengths to dissolve our weaknesses and what follows is another level of self-realisation and growth.
With a confidence that my young academic will thrive through her Leaving Cert and on to a highly successful and transcendental journey,
I wish her a world of success and happiness.
Business & Professional Development Coaching through coaching psychology.
Tel: (+353) 086 8494646