“Strengthen Your Strengths, Forget Your Weaknesses” Brief Summary of Show:
When asked the question in a job interview “What are your weaknesses?” what do you say? How do you navigate that tricky question? Should interviewers ask that question in the first place? In this Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans podcast episode, Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo discuss these questions, and why they think you should be focused on building your strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses.
Calls to Action:
Tell us your “inspired stories” stories by visiting www.InspiredActionPodcast.ca
Christopher Lawrence LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/career-life-coach-christopher-lawrence/
Kyle Kalloo LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyle-kalloo/
Change My Life Coaching & Change My Business Coaching LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/6446498/admin/
Change My Life Coaching: https://www.changemylifecoaching.ca/
Strategic Leader: https://strategicleader.ca
Ten Reasons to Focus on Your Strengths by Michelle Mcquaid: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/functioning-flourishing/201411/ten-reasons-focus-your-strengths
“Strengthen Your Strengths, Forget Your Weaknesses” Transcript:
All strengths in overdrive become weaknesses anyway.
Like if we over-focus, like it’s important to focus on your strengths, but sometimes people’s greatest strength it’s a double-edged sword. There’s a dark side to it.
[Announcer] Is the thought of being imperfect, keeping you from taking action? Welcome to Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans. Each week, we give you real life stories and thought provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life through your own actions. From the heart of Calgary Canada. Here are your hosts award winning coaches, Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.
Brilliant. Hello. Hello guys. Welcome to another exciting week. Imperfect Inspired Action. This week is going to be a little bit interesting. This is going to be a little bit different. As we talk about what? What are we talking about? Christopher?
I muted myself. I thought you had this. How come I’m responsible for your work? See, this is the problem. This is why he drives me crazy! Because he doesn’t even show up to these things prepared. Don’t hire him as a coach.
At the end of the day, that’s a weakness. It’s not one of my strengths, okay? And that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about today is how do we focus more on your strengths? Let me just back this up.
Yeah, strengthen your strengths. It’s called strengthen your strengths.
Strengthening your strengths.
Not your weaknesses.
Brilliant. Not your weaknesses. Now, how many of you, I’m just curious, those who are watching us live on a podcast, cause we’re kind of doing this live on TikTok right now, as well as recording the podcast. So you may hear some little bit comments here and there. That’s kind of what’s happening. And how many of you have been on a job interview and they ask you that dreaded question, about, “So tell me about your weaknesses.” Have you ever been asked that Christopher?
Yeah, I have. It’s a stupid question because the interviewer gets nothing from it. I swear to God, like how do people get in these jobs? Sorry, I’m going to soapbox for a second. How do people get in these jobs? Like their human resource people as like, “Tell me about your top three strengths and your top three weaknesses.” This literally tells you nothing about the candidate. Stop asking that question. Nobody knows how to answer it. And of course there’s tips and everything. And by the way, if you want some tips, reach out to me, ’cause I’ll give them to you. There’s opportunities in there to take control of the interview and make it better so you stand out. But it’s like, people say the same shit. It’s like, “Well, sometimes I work too hard.”
Yeah, that’s my weakness. I put in too many hours. And some people like that, like why do they?
You know what I say? I say stupid shit. I say things like, I might be applying for like, I dunno, I’m just going to make this up, a job as a barista. “What’s your weakness?” You know what I say? Databasing. Database administration is my greatest weakness. Guy’s like, “Oh. Oh we didn’t mean that.” Well, you didn’t specify what you meant. You said what’s your greatest weakness? It’s like my Achilles tendon. Like what do you want me to say? “Like what’s the dirt on you?” Well check my Facebook page. Like, what’s the dirt on you? You fucking cows. Excuse my language. But come on like, get a grip. Oh girl, I’m in it now.
Did you have an agenda for this podcast?
I’m just saying, here’s the thing, I remember when I was asked that question, like I said, it’s been a while that someone has asked that question, but I remember, there was very specifically asking. Someone asked me that question, I said, “Vanilla cake.” Oh my goodness. If I had a slice of vanilla cake.
That’s awesome. Vanilla cake!
And they’re like, “No, I meant-” And I said to them, ’cause I figured I didn’t get a job. I figured I was done. So I figured I had nothing to lose. And I just said, “You know, that question, doesn’t do anyone, any justice. because you are want to hire me for my strengths. That’s why you want me. And that’s why I want to be here because I want to do more of my strength stuff. What are you going to do with my weakness? Like, are you going to better me with it? Are you going to help me?”
All strengths in overdrive become weaknesses anyway.
Absolutely. Like if we over-focus, like it’s important to focus on your strengths, but like sometimes people’s greatest strength, has a double-edged sword, there’s a dark side to it. Like your greatest strength is, you know, some of your greatest strengths are like operational functionality and some of your greatest strengths are, you know, being able to lead and manage a team, right? So you’re very direct, very directive. You know, you tend to get buy-in very quickly, you know how to play that corporate game. And also, it comes with the dark side that sometimes there’s biases put into it and stuff. And I mean, I don’t have any of these problems. I’m almost perfect. I have asthma. So that’s, that’s the only thing. But outside of that, cool.
Okay. That’s where we went off. And that, that is your strength, lying. Anyway.
Maybe it’s being funny. Have you thought of that?
No, It never crossed my mind. but I think that’s the thing, I’m just wondering. So while we’re talking about this, because if I want you to look at some research and see what’s out there, but here’s my viewpoint. How do we strengthen our strengths? How do we do more of the things that we’re good at that we want to do, right? I’m not just talking about the best job that allows you to, because you’re good at the job. I’m talking about the things that you do well. If it’s communication, how do you sharpen your saw in communication? If it’s, you know, helping people, how do you do more about helping people? I’m just saying the things that you are really strong at things that really excels for you, why are we not focusing more on that? That’s really kind of what I’m saying. Instead of spending all this time and trying to embetter our weakness. I’m not saying don’t be mindful of your weaknesses. I’m just saying that just should not be the focus. What do you think?
Yeah, I totally agree with you. It’s funny. This reminds me, I know that people have been told this. Some of my greatest strengths are our word usage. I like, I like playing with words a little bit, especially in difficult communication. Like I love dealing with difficult communication situations because I love polishing the words. I love helping people go through that. I love talking to people, hearing about what their challenge is and seeing if we can brainstorm ideas to overcome it. When I brought this to my dad and my stepmom, and I said, why can’t I just have a job where I get to go for coffee with people and hear about their challenges and brainstorm ideas to overcome those challenges? Why can’t I do that? They looked at me and said, “Christopher, that’s not a real job.” So anyway, as a life coach, I sit back, I have a sip, I don’t drink coffee, but sit back, have a tea, develop a relationship with people. We talk about their challenges and we brainstorm ideas. This is part of what we do, to overcome challenges. I played off of my strength. And a lot of that has to do with, you know, career, but also like finding the right words. And you know, I like writing and it’s like, well, you’ll never make a career as a writer. And I’m like, “No, but writing is a big part of my career as a coach.” Through blogging and book writing and the whole rest of it. So I agree with you. I see this with my clients as well. There’s an over-focus on things that they need to get better at. Not especially, but I get a lot of introverts coming in, who look at me and they see this high extroversion, high charming kind of guy. And they’re like, that’s what I want. And it’s like, but I can’t make you extroverted. Can we actually find a way to turn your introversion into a superpower? Because it is. Introverts can hold space better than most people on earth. Introverts when they speak can command a room. The question is, in what way are they delivering it? That’s the part we want to work on. So we find different ways. But it’s actually working. The way that I look at this, Kyle, is it’s working with who somebody is rather than against who they are, right? So we work with who these people are rather than against. So if you’re like, well, I really struggle with blank. It’s like, well, let’s use blank to your advantage. Let’s look at the silver lining that comes with being an anxious person, a paranoid person, an angry person, you know, whatever it is. Let’s look at the benefits that come with that and use it to our advantage. Because until you see that you can like or love that part of yourself, that weakness, you will never change it.
Oh, hands down. Last week I was doing a workshop with one of our clients. And there’s a part of one of the exercises about, you know, about increasing trust, but sharing our historical stories of what happened to us. And so someone talked about something that happened to them and then everyone else in the room is like, “Wow, now I know why you do that. Now I know why you really have this high stamina to just move forward. And because of these obstacles that you had to face, right?” And so some of it, you know, times about, Hey, how do I make this a strength? And I want to stay in instead of this constant thing about weakness? So what’s the research on versus weakness? Cause like I said, some societal norm is, Hey, you have to work on weaknesses. You’re not growing if you’re not working on weaknesses. You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be able to do. So I mean, what am I saying? Does it make sense?
Yeah, It totally does. I think there’s a couple of things. I wanted to find strength and weakness. Cause there’s two perspectives of this. Strengths are often seen as the things that you’re already good at, but just because you’re good at it doesn’t mean you like it. So remember that strengths, strengths can be things that you enjoy, but you’re not quite good at them yet.
Right, brilliant, yep.
Weaknesses can be things that, maybe you’re not good at them yet. And you don’t want to be because you don’t like it. Or maybe you’re really good at it, but you don’t like it. That will drain you. Right. So I think we have this kind of flipped around in our society where we say you’re good at blank. So you should be a blank. And you know, you’re really good at math, so you should be an accountant. You know, as an example. But I don’t think that, that’s terrible advice. Just because you’re good at math doesn’t mean you enjoy doing it day in, day out. Right?
But this is how parents and guidance counselors and all these other people have said. Now, they mean well, so I’m not knocking those people. They meant well by it.
Oh I am. I’m knocking them. It’s time to look at what the research is saying. But these people go into biased schools with biased opinions and they don’t look at anything outside of their own box. Like, look at other research. So I am knocking them. Do your job for crying out loud. I’m sorry. Like, do you know why? Because then people come out. This, this is what bugs me. People come out. They end up with a degree. They work for five or 10 years. And then they have to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to get it fixed by me. If they did their jobs, when they were in high school, I wouldn’t have a job. And that would be a really good thing.
Yeah. So, speaking of research, oh my god. My TikTok is going crazy right now.
Okay good. Girl, are they giving us the AM? Did I get a hashtag preach? I want a hashtag preach. Can someone send me a hashtag preach please?
Speaking of research, now that you’ve defined strengths.
Yeah, yeah, Okay. So here’s the deal. A growing body of research is finding that people who use their strengths more at work are happier. So they report lower levels of depression and higher levels of vitality and good mental health. They experienced less stress. So they report higher levels of positivity. And in particular, the character strengths of kindness, social intelligence, self-regulation, and perspective. Those four things, those characters strengths appear to create a buffer against the negative effects of stress and trauma. So they will still experience stress and trauma, but because they’re focused on their strengths, they get kindness, social intelligence, self-regulation and perspective, which actually helped them create a higher buffer against those negative effects of stress and trauma.
Now, when you hear that, it just makes sense, doesn’t it? Like what you’ve already said thus far? You’re just like, why does that feel like a no-brainer?
If you have a strengths-based focus, you will be healthier in general. That’s what this is saying. And in fact, that’s the next point is that you feel healthier and have more energy. People who have a strengths-based focus at work, meaning they’re focused on the things that give them strength and that they are already strong in. So studies have found greater endorsement of character strengths is associated with a number of healthy behaviors, including leading an active life, pursuing enjoyable activities and eating well. There’s a couple more here, Kyle. This, by the way, comes from Psychology Today, Ten Reasons to Focus on Your Strengths, no matter what your job description says, and that’s by Michelle McQuaid.
Ah, Michelle McQuaid, yeah. She did some good research too on leadership side, so yeah.
So they have people who focus on their strengths feel more satisfied in their lives. So what the studies are showing, and by the way, she’s got links to all of these studies. Like she doesn’t just say studies show, they’re all hyperlinked, right? They tend to be better problem solvers and show better work performance. They tend to be more resistant to stress. They’re more confident, right? And of course, when you’re focused on your strengths, you feel good, your self efficacy goes up, right? Self-acceptance, self-esteem, they experience faster growth and development. So actually through positive self-mentoring and strengths building, these people are suited to circumstance when you’re learning something new, something difficult or something perceived as difficult, they tend to perform quite a bit better and they tend to be able to manage stress better during that learning process. And by the way, when we talk about people who do this, people who have this and do this, this is attainable by every human being.
Because this isn’t something you’re born with.
Even, you know, take a look at the workplace as one thing, because that’s an opportunity for them to be able to do more of that. And even the parenting. Cause again, I mean, we could go on to stories around parents who were like, I’ve said this in different speaking notes of different things where I remember going home, back then when we used to bring our own report card home. And so I went home and I was dreading because every one of my other peers were dreading about their marks. And I had a C in a particular subject, I had a couple A’s in there, couple of B’s in there, but I had one particular C and I was dreading that my mom was just going to focus on that C. And to my surprise, she focused, said, “Wow, good job in math, Good job in English. Good job in all these other things.” And there’s one area she said to me, more of an afterthought, did you need more support for the C? Did you earn the C? Or did he just get it from not doing anything? And that was the question, but I love that she celebrated all these great parts of it. And the next day,
Did you earn that C meaning? Did you work hard to get that C because that’s still a win if you put in the effort
And I think that’s a realistic and pragmatic approach to it. How often are we told you’re not good at math, so let’s spend all of your time focused on math. And then what happens? Yeah you can increase your grade, but to put to what point? Like what happens to your self efficacy?
And then what about the other things that you were so good at you no longer looked at. And of course, the next day when we were back in school, that’s what happened. People start to talk about, oh, I got into this. Oh, my dad lost it… But that’s all this other stuff that he did well at. You just didn’t do anything.
I think the there’s a few more bullets here in this thing, but I think let’s let people, like folks, go and check out this article again. It’s on Psychology Today, Ten Reasons to Focus on Your Strengths by Michelle McQuaid. And I would also suggest that maybe your inspired action, your imperfect inspired action is to spend some time identifying your strengths and folks you’ll know what they are not because you’re perfect at them, but you will know what they are because you enjoy doing them. And when you do them, they give you strength. They make you feel good.
That’s exactly it. It is being able to go back and say, “What is the thing that I really enjoy doing it?” You heard what we were talking about today. It’s not necessarily about I’m good at it because there’s a lot of things we’re good at that don’t really enjoy. But just looking back at that stuff. And also the second thing I would say to you, if you can do more of one particular thing or things, what would that be? Really kind of jot that down and be able to take a look. And if you haven’t, we’ll have this in some of the show notes that you’ll be able to go back and see some of this research. I think it’s just fascinating. And the third and final thing is do something you really enjoy, find a strength, practice it, do more of it, and let us know what that’s like for you. Thanks for joining. We will see you next week.
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In North America, All of our systems are built with a white male bias. They’re all built with a white male bias. Which means that what constitutes a qualified candidate is developed from a post-colonial white male perspective.