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Just Wonderful: Why We Focus on Our Weaknesses (and Fail to Develop Our Strengths)

Strengths-based development has been shown to produce dramatic positive results for people interested in leading happier, more successful lives. But when faced with feedback on both their strengths and weaknesses, many people still prefer to focus on improving their weaknesses, rather than developing their strengths.

A couple of years ago, I presented Your Talent Advantage, the psychological assessment and business development system I helped to create, to a networking group.

I thought the focus of the talk was pretty straightforward: the major points behind Perceptual Style Theory (on which our assessments are based), the six innate Perceptual Styles, natural skills versus acquired skills, and how you’re more likely to succeed when you focus on the former. So when I had finished, I was stunned when the first question was, “So, if I take your assessments, you’re just going to tell me how wonderful I am?”

What struck me was the use of the words ‘just’ and ‘wonderful’. The first, ‘just’, implies that hearing about your good qualities, natural skills, talents, and aptitudes is no big deal. The second, ‘wonderful’, amounts to a near-total dismissal of the positive in our lives. (Change the word to ‘talented’, ‘skilled’, or ‘gifted’, and see how differently the question reads!)

In retrospect, I should have been more prepared for such a question, as experience has shown me that embracing a strengths-based approach to building a business is difficult for many people.

When you work with Perceptual Style Theory every day (as I do), it is easy to forget just how radical an approach it really is. But it’s only radical because the ‘grow your weaknesses’ philosophy is so deeply ingrained in our society, for a number of reasons:

  1. As a society we focus more on creating well-rounded citizens than on developing the exceptional in each of us. This is a well-intentioned approach designed to make sure that each of us can function adequately within society, but it prevents us from deeply exploring our natural skills and abilities.
  2. Many of us have been taught that to focus on our own strengths (skills, talents, and achievements) is to be self-centered or narcissistic. In other words, it is a bad thing – immoral, unethical, or just not right.
  3. We have so little experience with exploring our own strengths, we don’t know how to do it. On the other hand, we have loads of experience focusing on our weaknesses and trying to fix what is “wrong”.

We’ve been trained to think of what we’re good at as something “finished” or complete. If we regard life as a series of boxes, many people think of the things they’re already good at as “checked off” – after all, if you’ve already got an ‘A’ in a subject, why work to get better at it?

It’s human nature to want to evolve and grow, to improve. But the things we’re good at are not in any way finished aspects of ourselves. They are, in fact, the very best places to begin our quest to create more success and happiness in our lives.

Also, ‘wonderful’ is a hugely general term, which is often how we receive positive feedback in life, if we receive it at all. People tell us, for example, that we’re “doing great” on a project or assignment, or that we’re good at public speaking.

But how often do people tell us exactly why we nailed that project, or what we could accomplish if we made public speaking more of a priority? Accurate feedback is extremely valuable, and the feedback you receive from our assessments is startlingly accurate.

I have experienced the power of strength- based development both personally and in my work with clients, and I can tell you that the results are nothing less than spectacular. But you don’t have to take my word for it – you can start focusing on your natural talents and abilities todayArticle Search, and unlock the power of the positive.

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Lynda-Ross Vega: A partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., Lynda-Ross specializes in helping entrepreneurs and coaches build dynamite teams and systems that WORK. She is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. For free information on how to succeed as an entrepreneur or coach, create a thriving business and build your bottom line doing more of what you love, visit .

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