Career Guide

Why itís important to know your strengths and weaknesses

It's not unusual for people to compare themselves with others around them, and to feel superior or inferior towards them based on their strengths and their weaknesses.

The thing is, every individual is different and we all function differently based on our personalities. It is important to know yourself and your capacities.

Your strengths are things you can leverage on, things you can use to push yourself further.

On the other hand, your weaknesses are not your downfall. These are areas you need to improve on. It is not something you lack. It is something you need to develop and build.

In order to leverage your strengths and improve on your weaknesses, you first need to know them.

In his book What Youíre Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential, author Robert Kaplan observes that most people actually have no clue what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Kaplan believes that people should take ownership of assessing themselves. After all, it is for their own personal development.

Knowing your personal strengths

Your biggest personal strength would be something that comes very easily for you. Take some time and think about what comes naturally for you. It could be anything.

For example, perhaps you have no problems having conversations with people you meet for the first time, or being able to think of quick solutions in a tense environment.

Here is a simple exercise you can try. From the list of attributes in Table 1, pick five that represent you the most, and arrange them in order, with number five being the one that represents you the least and number one being the one which represents you the most.

Remember, donít choose attributes that you want to have. Choose those which really represent you. You can choose more than five if you want to.

Now that you have your list, you know what your biggest strengths are. Leverage them.

Knowing your weaknesses

It is equally important to know your weaknesses as much as knowing your strengths.

Your weaknesses hold you back from achieving many great things. Weaknesses are areas that you have the power to improve. It can be anything ranging from professional to social skills.

Similar to the exercise you did earlier, pick five attributes from the list in Table 2 which you believe represent you, with number five being the least like you and number one being the most like you.

Now you have a list of some of your weaknesses and can begin addressing them.

Exercises like the two you just did are very basic. There are many more elaborate tests you can take to find out about your strengths and weakness in more depth.

You can try looking up The RichardStep Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test (RSWAT) online. It is a test designed with simple, straight to the point questions.

Why should I know my own strengths and weakness?

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses gives you a better understanding of yourself and how you function.

Understanding your strengths keeps you ahead in a lot of things. For instance, if you are looking at career options, you would be able to narrow down specific job scopes based on the things you know you are good at.

It also helps you to grow more. Knowing what you can excel at enables you to aim higher and achieve much more.

Knowing your weaknesses gives you a clearer understanding of things that may be holding you back, and you can then work around finding ways to not let your weaknesses pull you behind.

Should I focus on my strengths or work on my weaknesses?

Many people ask if itís more worth their time to just focus on strengths or work on improving weaknesses?

Generally, it would be better to focus more on your strengths.

These are things you are already good at doing, so you wonít need to invest too much of your time and effort in it.

Focusing on your strengths is about seeking opportunities instead of problems. Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus your energy on the things you are good at.

Focusing on things you are weak at decreases your self-confidence, enthusiasm and overall performance. Usually, not much is achieved by trying to fix oneís weakness.

Having said that, working on your weaknesses is important as it contributes to personal growth.

When you have something you are not good at, improving it even slightly can make huge change in your overall performance.

Donít try to fix or get rid of your weaknesses. It wonít work. Instead, work around your weaknesses. Find ways where they donít hinder you or stand in your way.

For example if you have an event to plan, you know you need posters for it and you are not artistically creative but you are excellent at coordinating, use your strength here. Get a team to design the posters and coordinate with them to ensure you get what you want.

I believe that it is equally important to understand both your strength and weaknesses. It is essential for self-development and personal growth.

There are a lot of wonderful things you can achieve if you knew your true potential and the things you are capable of doing.

Hyma Pillay is a key member of the Leaderonomics content team who delights in taking personality tests and finding out more things about herself and how she can use her strengths for the best causes. You can email her at

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