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5 Results of Working in Your Weaknesses

March 11, 20244 min read

I frequently encourage clients to work in their strengths. I begin the conversation by saying, “No one is good at everything. Discover what you are good at doing and like to do. Then, spend 80% of your time working in your strengths.”

I am amazed at how many people spend most of their time working in areas they do not enjoy and are not really good at doing. They invert the 80/20 rule. They spend 80% of their time working in weaknesses and 20% of their time working in strengths. I always encourage them to reverse these percentages. Why? Because . . .

Overwhelmed Leader

#1 - Working in Your Weaknesses Drains Your ENERGY

When you work in your weak areas, you feel drained and exhausted. Rather than feeling invigorated and energized, you find yourself dreading work. When you work in your strengths, you like what you do. You are really good at doing it, and you end the day excited about what you accomplished.

You are working in your “sweet spot.” It is sweet because it fits who you are. It aligns with your gifting and natural abilities. You wake up each day ready to go.

Leader with No Motivation

#2 - Working in Your Weaknesses Diminishes your PRODUCTIVITY

When you work in weak areas, results decrease. It is much harder to become effective when you work in an area you do not enjoy and do poorly. The work is unnatural to you.

When you work in your strengths, the opposite occurs. It is like you automatically know what to do to produce solid results. You don’t have to labor so much. It’s like sailing with the wind at your back. Things just move along naturally, and great results follow.

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#3 - Working in Your Weaknesses Increases CHALLENGES

Every job has challenging times. Working in your weaknesses increases fatigue during those times.

When times get tough, it’s hard to push ahead. It becomes even more difficult when you are doing something you are not really good at doing. Every task feels like climbing uphill.  

If you work in your strengths, it does not reduce the challenge, but it does help you rise to the challenge. You are doing something you like doing. It may be a challenging time in your life, but the work itself is not the challenge.

You like the work, and you are good at doing it. You know the seasonal challenge will diminish and the results will return. So, you simply push on.

#4 - Working in Your Weaknesses Really Feels Like WORK

Have you ever observed a presentation given by someone who hates public speaking? He makes a 5-minute presentation feel like 2 difficult hours. Why is that? It’s because he is not good at what he is doing. It’s all work to him and no play.

An athlete “working his magic” makes a complicated task look easy. To be sure, even good athletes practice. However, practice just improves their ability to enhance their strengths. They are good at the sport. Practice just makes them better.  

A natural salesman doesn’t really muster up the strength to introduce himself to people. His palms are not sweaty. His heart is not racing. He naturally enjoys meeting people. It’s not work to him. He loves connecting with people.

Focusing on our own strengths is what, in fact, makes us strong. Quote by Simon Sinek

#5 - Working in Your Weaknesses Limits Career ADVANCEMENT

Working in your weaknesses hinders career advancement. You get noticed for dropping the ball, not delivering great results. Working in your strengths opens the door to career advancement. Your boss can’t help but notice the results of your good work.  

Career advancement does come with a warning: promotions can remove you from your strengths into your weaknesses. For example, if you are a great salesman, you might not be a great sales manager. The skill set for being a sales manager is different from being a salesman. Managing people is not always fun. Most salesmen like selling, not managing people.  

Be careful that promotions do not remove you from your sweet spot. Or, at least recognize that promotions may require you to become good at some additional skills.  

So, what are your weaknesses? Identifying your strengths and weaknesses requires reflection. As a coach, I find that many leaders struggle to avoid their weaknesses. They waste their time and energy on tasks they do not enjoy and are not good at doing.

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Dave Pennington PhD

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