Should you spend more time building your strengths or overcoming your weaknesses?

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Apparently, many of us are not living to our fullest potential. Based on a Gallup poll analysis, people who don’t have the opportunity to spend time building their strengths at work are six times less likely to be engaged in their job. In fact, of the ten million surveyed in this poll, seven million did not fully operate in their strengths zone. 1

What is your strengths zone, anyway? According to Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0, operating in your strengths zone means that you have an opportunity in your daily life to develop and grow your natural talent. And, folks who find that sweet spot seem to be happier, more productive, and more engaged. In fact:

“People have seven times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies.” –Tom Rath Tweet this!

So, this book about strengths…

StrengthsFinder 2.0 shows us a new way to be productive. The book argues that maximizing the gifts that make us powerful, rather than overcoming our weaknesses, will make us most effective. This is counterintuitive in our culture, where “from the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.” 2

Raw talent becomes your strength when you invest time in developing and growing it. Tom Rath’s book comes with an online survey that helps define your talents for you, and provides an action plan on ways to invest and develop your gifts so that they become strengths.


The book comes with a code to a survey that identifies your top five talents. In the survey, you are presented with two statements, and you have to decide on the statement with which you most agree. For example:

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What are my strengths?

So, I took the survey. And you know what? The survey pointed out a talent that I practice right here on this blog: Discipline. Go figure, right? Folks with the strength of discipline are continuously working to create structure out of chaos through routine and organization. It’s funny, because that’s what I like writing about. For example, I have written about a good morning routine and a compass routine.

My subsequent gifts were Learning, Achievement, Focus, and Connectedness. Having a “strength” for Learning means I feel energy from the learning process. Some of my favorite posts are those where I get to learn something new—like my post about great leaders. Achievement and Focus go hand-in-hand—I am always looking to improve, and therefore I focus on setting goals. My fifth talent, Connectedness, explains what motivates me to do what I do. It’s essentially the conviction that “it’s a small world after all.” I strongly believe that we can all make a difference—just like I have written on gratitude and community.

This book really showed me the potential of my strengths. Hopefully, now that I know more about my natural gifts, I will more productive and effective.

What are your strengths? Let us know by commenting below!

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  1. Rath, Tom. StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press, 2007.
  2. Rath, Tom. StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York: Gallup Press, 2007. p. 3
  • thefluter

    Learning is also one of my strengths, and what I found really interesting was that it is the prices of learning, not the mastery of a concept, that energizes me. I think that is so true, and knowing that gives me the freedom to explore ideas without feeling guilty about not devoting a ton of time to them.

    • I loved that about the book too– it’s the journey that counts, rather than the destination. I will have to remember that for myself as well. Thanks for sharing.

  • Terri

    I love the idea of moving toward one’s strengths because that points you in a more positive direction!

    • Yes! Focussing on the positive can be very helpful. I agree.