The Rules for a Strengths-Based Philosophy
The Futility in Fixing Flaws – Don’t Focus on Fixing Weaknesses!
A prominent doctrine of the Strengths-based philosophy is that you should not focus on weaknesses. In fact, Strengths Psychology Pioneer Dr. Donald O. Clifton asked the question, “What will happen when we think about what is right with people instead of fixating on what is wrong?”
While certainly this is a fundamental component of Strengths training and development, it is the futility of trying to fix weaknesses that makes this a Golden Key to unlock your strengths for success. Exerting time, energy and resources towards fixing weaknesses diverts efforts away from fully developing your strengths. Since “Maximizer” is my number 1 talent theme, I personally see this aspect of focusing on weaknesses as a debilitating factor to personal and team development. Actually, exercises in futility are, by definition, inefficient and unproductive. It’s like building a sand castle too close to the ocean during a rising tide. You can work and work but you are laboring in futility as the water continues to degrade your creation. The failure is measured not in trying or your level of effort; the failure lies with the lost time that could have been spent doing something else or at least moving your efforts elsewhere.
Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers for 8 seasons. During that time, the 7ft. center won multiple championships, MVP’s and many other accolades. The other thing that he was also know for was that he was one of the worst free-throw shooters in the NBA. This was Shaq’s weakness. As matter of fact, during close games, other teams employed a strategy to purposely foul him and then counting on him to miss the free-throw. In many discussions with basketball fans, they would often say, “why don’t the coaches make Shaq practice free-throws until he gets good at it”. Well, I’m not sure what the coaches did or did not do in reference to improving Shaq’s free throw abilities but what was apparent was that he never got any better at it during his long basketball career. The point is, Shaq was one of the best basketball players that has ever played the game. And, I would imagine that the Laker’s staff did not spend a lot of time trying to make Shaq a great free-throw player but they did make sure that he continued to be one of the top rebounders, scorers and shot blockers in the league. Anything otherwise would have been an exercise in futility.