Strengths or Weaknesses. Which Should You Focus on Building?

Build your strengthsA few weeks ago, I went on a family outing to La Ronde (largest amusement park in Montreal). I hadn’t been to La Ronde in over 25 years. I remember having so much fun on the bumper cars ride. So, I decided to ride it with my nephew. That day, that ride stirred up something in me.

When I got off that ride, I was reminded of a very important lesson I had learned years ago.

I want to share that lesson with all of you and the difference it can make in our lives!

As soon as the ride began, it wasn’t as much fun as I remembered. I was getting bumped from every angle. Getting cornered in by two or more cars, stuck in one place and couldn’t get my car to move. I could hear my nephew yelling from his car, “Turn it around, get out of that spot!” I kept looking around at what the other drivers were doing and where they were going. Meanwhile, a car would pop out of nowhere, bump into me, keeping me stuck in the same spot. At some point, my nephew yelled out something that stuck with me, “Stop looking at what other people are doing. Focus on your own car and start moving.”

It worked.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes it takes a child to remind us of important lessons? For me, the lesson was:

Focus on building your own strengths instead of comparing your weaknesses to other people’s strengths.

What does this have to do with my bumper cars ride experience?

Let me explain.

That ride reminded me of how I spent quite a few years of my life going through it like the bumper cars ride. You see, I had the tendency of comparing my weaknesses to others strengths. I would end up feeling stuck in the same spot. Like there was always someone out there bumping into me, keeping me cornered, because they were better than me. The thing is, by looking at what they were good at and comparing myself to them, I was allowing their strengths to bump into and keep me cornered in the same spot without moving forward.

An example of this is years ago, I had started working as an on line representative for a big corporation. Within a few months, I excelled in the company objectives and was given a mandate to coach my colleagues. Given my patience and coaching techniques which helped them improve their performance, I began giving training sessions. I loved it! I loved coaching and training so much, I wanted to move up to manager’s position and do it regularly.

In 2 years, 4 positions opened, I never applied.

What stopped me?

You see, compared to others in the company, I didn’t have the knowledge and expertise they had in terms of computer systems and applications. I enrolled in courses to learn it but, I thought, “All the other candidates are so much more qualified.” So, I kept passing each time. Although, I had people telling me how much they admired my patience and coaching skills, I would dismiss it and think, “Those things are not important”. So, I stayed there, letting the strengths of others bump me and corner me in the same place.

One day, following another posting for a manager’s position, one of the managers literally came to get me from my seat, took me in her office and asked, “What are you waiting for?” When I explained my concerns, she shook her head and said,

“Stop looking at what others are good at. We have enough people with those abilities. We need someone with your abilities to motivate employees.”

My own personal angel.

She saved me from my worst enemy. Me!

I applied and got the manager’s position.

I finally got myself off the bumper cars ride of life. I stopped comparing my weaknesses to others strengths and focused on building my own unique strengths.

Soon, I was transforming teams and employees which were considered hopeless and difficult, into high performing teams. How did I do this?

By focusing on each individual’s strength and building it, instead of trying to fix their weakness.

This became my passion. Today, I have started my own coaching business, something which never would have happened had I continued focusing on my weaknesses.

It’s not to say we should ignore our weaknesses completely. It’s important to assess and manage our weaknesses but, not at the expense of burying our strengths. Otherwise, we may never realize the things we can excel at and achieve greatness. We all have flaws. More importantly, we all have strengths that are uniquely our own. While focusing on strengthening your flaws may eventually diminish them, honing your own unique strengths may make a difference in the world!

I was lucky enough to have someone point my strength out to me. It led me to finally get off the bumper cars ride of life, to doing something beyond anything I could imagine. I want to give this back to all of you.

Each and everyone of you have a unique gift that no one else has.

If you’re not sure what it is, there are a few questions that by answering them can help guide you towards recognizing it.

  1. What kind of tasks or talents seem natural and easy to you?
  2. What activities work related and outside work do you look forward to and enjoy more than any other?
  3. What are the things that your colleagues, friends and family say you’re good at the most? What do they come to see YOU for the most?

Don’t dismiss any of your answers as those things are not important. Your unique strengths are linked and buried behind these answers.

If you’ve ever compared your weaknesses to someone else’s strengths, Stop! Use your answers to look inside. Find that gift, that strength deep within. Polish it, work on it, and practice it.

Get off the bumper cars ride of life and watch yourself go!

Are you riding the bumper cars of life? Can answering these question help you to get off the ride? Please, share any other techniques or strategies that we can all try.

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs and tagged , .

17 Responses to Strengths or Weaknesses. Which Should You Focus on Building?

  1. Hi Antonia,
    Thank you for putting this message out there and for starting off with a great story so we can visualize the message. Realizing that we should be focusing on our strengths is truly empowering. Why should we burn mental energy focusing on the negative when there are so many skills and abilities we already have that we could enhance and let shine (the positive)? Highlight those strengths and spend just enough time working through those “weaknesses” so they are to a point where they don’t hamper you.

    For example, some people will not be dynamic public speakers in this lifetime, but the content of what they are presenting consistently excellent. Those individuals needs to find a way to get the message and content across to the recipients without allowing the speaking part to be a barrier. Visual aids, well done handouts, sufficient practice so they can convey the message well enough while allowing the content to “speak” would be key.

    The idea is not to get caught up in what you are not strong in, but to find the best way to emphasize your talents and skills.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Dale,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this message. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts:) I love your example. It really contributes to getting the message across and further inspire us to focus on our unique, personal value and strengths!

  2. Pingback: Sticking To Our Goals: Becoming Better Version of Ourselves

  3. Tuhin says:

    Hi Antonia,
    I have always believed that some of the greatest lessons in life come from simpler and unexpected events. And this post is an example of this.

    The way you realized the importance of inner strength from this little bumper car ride is mind blowing. Though I haven’t taken your coaching classes, but I believe, you are surely a good coach.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Tuhin,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your comment:) I’m glad you enjoyed this and appreciate your encouragement:)

  4. Nasri Nasir says:

    Hi Antonia,

    Thank you for sharing such important information! It has made me want to start focusing on myself. We all do surely do have flaws but importantly it’s worth to focus on the strength. Thank you for the reminder! It reminds me of a website I once visited at VIA strengths that I’d like to share.
    http://www.viacharacter.org/www/

    I took the survey once, and it has helped me identify my different types of strengths and how to use my signature strengths (mine was kindness) to boost myself. With that I was able to use that strength to apply it to my daily life and really felt good about it.

    Great post!

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Nasri,

      I’m so pleased that the post has sparked and inspired you to focus on your strengths! Thank you for sharing your personal experience and thoughts:)

  5. Rochelle Malone says:

    Antonia, thank you for sharing your story. This is the motivation I needed to go to the next level professionally.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Rochelle,

      I’m so happy to hear that it sparked something in you to take that step and move forward:) Go for it!

  6. Frank Daley says:

    Antonia, you are right.
    We have to improve our basic functions for normal living, of course, but after that concentrate on your strengths. Many people don’t know their gifts, talents and abilities and so cannot have a life on their own terms because they don’t know themselves well enough to make the right decisions for themselves.
    I teach people to know themselves, play to their strengths and be successful in their personal and professional lives at Self-Knowledge College. http://www.selfknowledgecollege.com

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for reinforcing that everyone has special gifts, talents and abilities. I agree, living a life on our own terms comes from playing to our strengths!

  7. Love this post, Antonio. It’s amazing how much insight we can gain from playing. In my work as a business consultant and coach, I find that women compare themselves to others (to men and women) much more often than men do. I agree with you. The focus should be on our strengths, not comparing oneself to others.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience:) Very much appreciated!

  8. anne says:

    “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

  9. Antonia says:

    Hi Pamina,

    I agree, trying to fix our weaknesses holds many of us back:)

  10. Pamina says:

    Ah Antonia, what a great illustration of what holds so many people back!