Stop Focusing on Your Weaknesses

April 2015, by So-Young Kang

So-Young Kang has been a certified trainer since 2009 in the US and Singapore and has trained thousands around the world. Participants rate her 4.8 out of 5 on StrengthsFinder programs serving global MNCs, small and medium sized businesses, and government organizations on how to maximize strengths. These are part of a broader StrengthsExplosion Program which is a holistic journey to systematically apply the use of Strengths in your organization.

We love to say that we believe in living out our strengths and in maximizing peoples’ potential but why do we keep focusing on our weaknesses? Why is it so hard to live from our strengths? Is it because we are so used to being told what we’re not good at, or is it that we spend so much time fixing those things that we’re not good at, that we have no time to even think about our strengths?

Or is it because we don’t even know what our strengths are?

I didn’t know what mine really were until 2009 when I first got certified in Gallup’s StrengthsFinder. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised when I saw my results. My initial reaction was – “Communication? That’s a strength?” I laughed because at that time, I didn’t really enjoy writing and sure, I was always chatty, but is that a strength?

“People with strong communication talents like to explain, describe, host, present, and write…” – Gallup StrengthsFinder

As I read on, it said that people with this talent (communication) could be good public speakers. Me? I mean, I spoke at church in front of my Sunday school kids and won a speech contest when I was 8 years old, but that hardly counts…or does it?

If it was true that I could develop my talents to emerge as a real strength by investing in it, I thought, why not see if this works?


So in January 2010, I started practicing by writing my first newsletter, which became a monthly newsletter, and starting to film it. It was a bit weird at first to be honest, and I had never done anything like that before, but I soon realized that it wasn’t so bad.

After practicing and investing in developing my talent, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. Now, a few years later, I speak to global audiences of thousands of people and it is actually fun for me. And I even get paid to speak. So it has been really fun to explore and invest in developing something that’s natural for me. So do I believe that investing in strengths works?


So why doesn’t everyone invest in their talents?

In fact, Gallup found that people who invest in their strengths are happier and live more enjoyable lives. And organisations that invest in strengths report:

  • 7.8% higher productivity
  • 8.9% higher profitability

it’s a win-win-win!

So what’s holding us back from developing our strengths?

The truth is, the idea of investing in your strengths is nice but fairly new. It comes from positive psychology, which really started to emerge and get popularized around 1988. Until then, psychology had been about fixing what’s wrong with you. Companies pretty much followed that line of thought, that we should ‘fix’ what we aren’t good at. There’s still a shift going on and it will take some time. But if you want to get started, a great place to start is to first find out what your strengths are.

When we focus on what we are bad at, we will get better at it and can then go from ‘bad’ to ‘not bad.’

Yet when we focus on developing our strengths, we have the opportunity to go from ‘good’ to ‘great.’

Isn’t it time to start investing in your strengths and positively impacting all those around you? So, stop focusing on your weaknesses. Don’t just be ‘not bad,’ go be ‘great.’



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