Consultant Strengths vs. Weaknesses

By focusing on your strengths, you can improve output (And income)

People collaborating on project
••• Milton Brown/Caiaimage/Getty Images

Self-development is all about identifying weaknesses and “fixing” them, at least according to conventional wisdom. But should you really “fix” those weaknesses? No, you shouldn’t!

The common thought is that we all naturally possess strengths and weaknesses, but in reality, we don’t. What we do possess are natural talents and non-talents, and it’s important to keep in mind that these are not the same as strengths and weaknesses. Natural talents are those abilities we possess that are the result of how our minds think and make decisions. They are not learned by reading some book or taking some class. It is how we use these natural talents or abilities that determines if we have potential strengths and potential weaknesses.

There Are Two Hard Truths

  • When you allow your success to depend on your talents, you manufacture strengths.
    • Example: You are naturally very good at problem-solving. Your job relies heavily on your ability to solve problems. Thus, by creating dependence on a natural ability you possess, you have manufactured a strength. If your job never required you to solve problems, you would still have the same ability – just not an actual, realized, strength. 
  • When you allow your success to depend on your non-talents, you manufacture weaknesses.
    • Example: You are not naturally good at detailed work. Your job, unfortunately, requires an immense amount of detailed work. Because you’ve accepted this job, and it’s requirement of a talent you do not possess – you’ve manufactured a weakness by creating a dependence on your non-talent.

    Think of it like this: Talents and non-talents are like two boxes. The first box contains a gift (this one’s talent) and comes all wrapped up with a bow. The second box (non-talent), however, is nothing but trouble. Think of it as Pandora’s box. Regardless of either box’s content, each box only contains potential.

    Box #1 is only potentially good, and Box #2 is only potentially bad. Nothing happens until you open the boxes. If you don’t ever open Box #1, you never receive the gift contained inside. Likewise, if you never open Box #2, you never suffer the consequences.

    Talents and non-talents work in the same way. If you’re never relying on your talents, then you never realize the strengths contained inside. Adversely, if you never rely on your non-talents, then you never suffer the weakness you possess at something.

    Applying Yourself

    You control this potential by how you apply yourself. Once you’ve made this shift in perspective, you’ll realize that any weaknesses you have exist only because you’ve manufactured them (by allowing your success to depend on them). You should also realize that you can correct a weakness by removing that dependence—that’s the exciting part.

    The most successful consultants understand this. They know that they are the only ones responsible for whether they benefit from strengths or suffer from weaknesses. A good consultant doesn't spend their time trying to “fix” a weakness. Instead, they make sure that their success doesn't depend on their non-talents. If it is something that must be done, they outsource it.

    So how do you make sure you don’t manufacture any weaknesses? Be sure to create a role for yourself that relies as much as possible on your natural strengths as a consultant, and as little as possible on your weaknesses. Give specific thought to what services you will provide and see how they correlate to your natural talents and non-talents. Ask yourself if you’re manufacturing a weakness by doing so.

    As a consultant, you are in a rare position to craft the perfect role for yourself. One that maximizes dependence on your natural talents, and minimizes dependence on any non-talents. Just remember, you’re in charge of whether you manufacture weaknesses or strengths, no one else.