Focus on Strengths, Partner for Weaknesses

I was recently reminded of an exercise I did in around 2009 when I was struggling to adjust to having a child and a career. It’s called Gallup’s Strengths Finder. I bought the book, did the online test and digested the findings eagerly. According to the test, your main strengths don’t really change over time. So revisiting them now was quite meaningful. These were my top five:

  • Harmony – finding consensus, creating a peaceful environment, the mediator
  • Input – collecting information, sharing insights, learning
  • Focus – prioritising, then acting
  • Discipline – creating structure out of chaos, being efficient
  • Intellection – intellectual processing, introspection, analysis

How often to do we focus on our weaknesses and try to compensate or improve them? What I like about the Gallup approach is the focus on your strengths. Isn’t it just spectacular that we are all built so differently?


Some of the advice on the action plan for my strengths is about making time to think and write. How interesting as that is something I’ve neglected for years. I had a chuckle about the advice to be patient with those who are not as efficient. I’m a whirlwind in my kitchen. I calculate what takes the longest, get it going and whiz around getting a bunch of things done simultaneously. So it’s not surprising that it boggles my mind when my husband takes twenty minutes to make tea!

I wasn’t surprised about the discipline and focus although it is a seeming contradiction for a right-brained person. But I know that I’m a goal-driven person and I’m good at keeping meetings on track and making sure there are action-items instead of just rambling. I love to research and gather information and I’m using my blog to share insights in line with this strength. Having a medical sabbatical from work I’m able to rest and to spend a lot oftime processing the reasons for my health collapse. I am focussing on not over-thinking as I’m prone to do so, especially with time on my hands.

In terms of Harmony, I’ve always been the one in my family to mediate between the feuding parties. The saddest thing for me is that I’ve had to cut people out of my life for my own survival. For me to do that is drastic, considering that harmony is my top strength. Rayya Elias talks about always making sure your side of the street is clean. There comes a time when you realise that there’s nothing you can do about the other side of the street.

I’m a strong believer that we should not focus on our weaknesses and try to make them better. Rather, we should accept them for what they are and find other people to support us who are strong in these areas. For example, I would need a business partner who doesn’t mind admin and who can jump through the many hoops of bureaucracy that banks put in place in the process of ‘helping you’. I also know that there are certain types of people who I can’t lead and I simply won’t accept any future positions where I’m expected to do so.

A life without a fulfilling job is torture for me. I’m considering how to use my strengths in finding future roles that are suitable for me. I’ve said it before, but knowing yourself helps you make good choices about your future. And good choices lead to a happy life.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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