When I saw Strengths based Parenting recently published, it reminded me of a post I had written but never published back in 2013. So here it is:
There’s a lot of literature, career advice, self help and other sources that suggest in order to improve you need to identify weaknesses and work on them. In fact, in most corporate environments there’s a whole review processes geared toward identifying weakness and developing plans for overcoming them. I’ve always had mixed feelings about this emphasis on overcoming deficiencies. If you are trying to achieve a certain goal and lack the skill to get there, then addressing those shortcomings makes sense. But if your weakness is in an area you aren’t interested in and not in the path toward a goal you do care about, then it doesn’t make much sense to invest the time to improve. And frankly you probably won’t be that motivated to improve anyway.
A while back I did some reading by Gallup, specifically the Strengths Finder, and took their assessment test as well. The thing that resonated most with my about their approach to focusing on developing strengths rather than compensating for weaknesses can be summed up in this passage.
Over the past decade, Gallup has surveyed more than 10 million people worldwide on the topic of employee engagement (or how positive and productive people are at work), and only one-third “strongly agree” with the statement:
“At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day”
At a gut level, it definitely feels like doing what I do best everyday would be a lot more satisfying than doing what I’m not good at and trying to get better at it so that I can fill a need. The strengths based approach jibes better with my own inclinations and world view, although I can see within it the seeds of complacency and limitations (but maybe I’ve been brainwashed to think that way). The concept of only focusing on weakeness to the point where they are no longer interfering with the pursuit of strengths helps reconcile the two, but there is still something within it that leaves me uneasy. There’s also definitely plenty of things that people are good at that they simply don’t want to pursue. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t obligate you to have to do it everyday.
Nevertheless, I’m definitely curious about what a stengths based environment would be like, if such a place exists, and incorporating it more into my own approach.