Have you ever noticed that when you see a fault in yourself and try to improve it, it’s nearly impossible? It either takes too long or too much work or you fail to notice real improvement because this other weakness came up and you just have to fix that one first!

In the process, say goodbye to any self-esteem or self-worth you may have had. I mean, what good is somebody who can’t change or improve, right?

Well, I’ve solved this problem. Hold your applause until the end, please.

Recently, for a class I’m taking, I had an executive coach sit down with me and go over a 360-degree review I asked some people at work to complete for me.

His first comment struck me. He said, “I don’t really want to go over your weaknesses. I want to help you find ways to leverage the strengths you have. There’s not much benefit to trying to change your weaknesses.”

Blasphemy. How can I not try to fix my weaknesses? Isn’t that the point of life? Also, isn’t somebody who sees their strengths and not their weaknesses delusional?
No. They’re smart. Here’s why:

Strengths Rating Improvement Factor Improvement
1 9 10% 0.9
2 9 10% 0.9
3 7 10% 0.7
Total 2.5


Weaknesses Rating Improvement Factor Improvement
1 3 32% 0.95
2 2 31% 0.62
3 3 31% 0.93
Total 2.5

These tables show Strengths or Weaknesses, a Rating on a scale from 1-10, an Improvement Factor, which is how much I’m going to improve a given Strength/Weakness by and the net amount of Improvement gained. The total shows the total improvement gained for the three Strengths/Weaknesses.

Now this is the important part, so pay attention.

See the totals at the bottom? They’re both the same. In other words, I get a benefit of 2.5 whether I increase my strengths or my weaknesses. But, look at the improvement factors for the weaknesses.

I have to work 3.1 times harder on my weaknesses to get the same benefit as I would from working on my strengths.

No wonder it’s so hard to make noticeable improvements in my weaknesses. It’s hard work!! I can get a whole lot more bang for the buck if I put my effort into maximizing my strengths.

Now, I’m definitely not saying to ignore our weaknesses. In fact, I’m saying we should be very aware of them and work to improve them. But that awareness isn’t about beating ourselves up. It’s about allowing us to choose situations that maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

So, if you feel like you’re doing okay at most things but not spectacular, maybe it’s time to find out what your strengths are and whether another situation might take better advantage of them?