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Defying Well-Rounded Thinking: Capitalizing on Strengths In A World That Focuses On Fixing Weaknesses

By Lauren McGhee, Founder and owner of Lauren McGhee Coaching and a Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder Coach

“To be successful, you have to be a well-rounded person.”

At least, that is what I was told throughout the entirety of my teenage years and early twenties. Candidly, I whole-heartedly disagree.

As a Gallup-certified StrengthsFinder coach, it is my job to help my clients and their teams/staff unveil, understand, and successfully utilize their most natural talents and abilities. In short, we talk about their top Strengths. The beauty of Strengths conversations is that you become fully aware of the talents that you bring to the table, and those talents are the only thing we focus on in coaching sessions. However, I, along with thousands of other Americans, grew up under the teaching that to be truly successful, you must identify your weaknesses, focus on them, and fix them. Sound familiar?

The problem with trying to attain a ‘well-rounded’ persona is simple: none of us are well-rounded individuals. On the contrary, the chances of you having the same top 5 Strengths in the same order as another human being is 1 in 33.3 million. Wait, what?

I am not a math genius by any means. Unfortunately, school systems are primarily set up in a way that if you are not excelling in math, you will be put in more math classes, be paired with math tutors, and take math practice tests for you to get better at it. (Caveat: basic math skills are essential. This is just an example.) But I never got much better at it. You know why? Because when we focus our energy on fixing something that we are not naturally great at, it will just make us really average at that one skill. In contrast, when we put effort and investment into something that is natural for us, it will take us from great to exponentially better than the majority of those around us. Essentially, when we capitalize on our Strengths as opposed to dedicating ourselves to fixing our weaknesses, we are no longer well-rounded individuals; we are incredibly talented individuals.

Seeing our world through a talent filter is not only beneficial to ourselves, but it additionally creates an instinct within us to find the talents within those around us. Your co-workers, employer, spouse, and kids will be thrilled with this new habit of yours.

Give yourself a break, analyze what talents you have to offer the world, and do yourself and those in your life a favor: invest in those incredible talents of yours.

“We cannot be whatever we want to be. We can, however, be a whole lot more of who we already are.” –Tom Rath