Strengths vs. Weaknesses


About ten years ago I began to enjoy the wisdom of Marcus Buckingham, the popular best-selling author and in-demand speaker.  His message is that a person’s unique personal strengths are the key to unlocking their potential ( I got revved up by this important truth; however, I had never really found a way to make it “click” in my life.  It was always in the back of my mind but I applied it pretty much hit-and-miss. I had lots of excuses about not having enough time, not having enough energy, not being in the right environment, etc., but deep down I knew it really was an element of fear that was behind my fully embracing what I knew to be truth.  Once I realized this I began to look at my life and discovered there were many areas that I was holding back in because of fear – in business, in relationships, and in my faith. It didn’t take me long to attribute it all to a fear of failure.  And so I began a quest to overcome it. Books, CDs, DVDs, internet sites, prayer, affirmations, declarations, etc. helped me to get down and dirty in my fight to overcome my weaknesses.  I finally achieved breakthrough when I had a revelation that doing this was WASTING MY TIME. In my ferocity to clear the path to get to my strengths, I was actually focusing on my weaknesses and diminishing my potential. I was doing the opposite of my goal. I stopped in my tracks and did some serious reassessment of my assumptions. It was then that I discovered that I was not afraid of failure, but I was afraid of success.

Nelson Mandela’s quote of Marianne Williamson’s Our Deepest Fear suddenly went from an admired platitude to a life giving testimony.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

My fear of success had partly to do with the responsibility of sustaining it and the expectations and judgments of others.  This time the books, CDs, DVDs, internet sites, prayer, affirmations, declarations, etc. were focused properly. Instead of overcoming my flaws and limitations, I began to put concentrate on my assets – places I had an advantage – the knowledge, skills, abilities, and spheres of influence in which I was already successful.  As I pour resources and energies into these areas I continue to be amazed at the benefits.  I have more energy, I have a better attitude when things are challenging, I feel less threatened by the opinions of others, I feel less threatened by the success of others in my field, and, in a major bonus, I’ve found that when I focus on strengths that the areas of my limitations have adjusted.  They have either improved (my strengths have absorbed them) or they have totally fallen off my grid of self-assessment (they have no impact).

When you are moving towards your purpose in life, keep in mind that it’s not only important to re-evaluate yourself from time to time and the beliefs that you have about what you can and can’t accomplish, but also WHY you have those beliefs.


“Excellence is not the opposite of failure.”
(Marcus Buckingham)


“(People) who are making (their purpose) work are ascribing their success to intrinsic causes  rather than extrinsic. They’ve discovered their strengths, they seek their  strong moments, and they apply them with courage and diligence. They trust  themselves beyond anyone else and they take themselves very seriously. They take  a stand for their strengths.”
(Marcus Buckingham)

Author: Pamela J. Dickey - Burn Bright Coaching

I'm a speaker, writer, personal and career coach, organizational advisor/consultant, and training facilitator. I own Burn Bright Coaching, and draw on my background as a personal and career development coach, certified corporate trainer, and ordained minister to equip my clients and audiences to discover and pursue their life’s purpose — personal, professional, and spiritual — to help them Burn Bright.

One thought on “Strengths vs. Weaknesses”

  1. You hit the nail on the head in one little sentence: fear of the expectations and judgements of others definitely can hold us back. I think one very free-ing concept is the “bucket list.” Think of all the things you will wish you’d tried at the end of your days if you let the opinions of others hold you back. Think seriously of how you will feel about your wasted potential when facing the end of your days, when your body or failing mind won’t allow those new challenges. Take hold of the moment! There is no time like the present to begin re-making your life!

    And instead of the looks or wisecracks of others, think of the awesome fun you might have! At some point in my recent past I began actually LOOKING for challenges. Not because I consciously wanted to face risk, but because at some point I realized that my real enemy in life was boredom! I HATE being bored! Challenges are sometimes scary but the benefits far outweigh the boredom that doing the same thing over and over holds.

    I have a young friend that I work with. He just turned 30 in January. His worry as his birthday approached was that he hadn’t completed the many goals he’d set for himself (we chided him that he’d already made a “Bucket List”), such as living/working in all 50 states (he only has two left!!). I have to admit, the thing I most admire about him is that if he hears about something fun, something he’s never seen or done, he almost instantly wants to try it! He’s game! We all love working with him because life is NEVER DULL! What a great work atmosphere and lifestyle, to always have new ideas, new things to talk about, new challenges aired without fear of ridicule or reprisal.

    At this point in my life, I don’t have time to mess around with fear of failure. The thing that fills me with dread is the thought of nothing to do, the same-old-same-old every day (“retirement”? GAK!). It’s enough to make Alzheimer’s look like a vacation.

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