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Life and Work Blog

How to Sail With Strengths and Weaknesses So You Don't Sink

Jun 12, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Brent O'Bannon

There’s always a war going on between our weaknesses and strengths. If you’re a business owner, there’s also a war between working IN your business and working ON your business.

Maybe you think the strengths approach is one-sided. Nope. As a coach I realize we all have weaknesses in our personal life and business. Weaknesses are like water leaks in a sail boat and if we don’t plug our leaks, we sink.

First, we need to identify our weaknesses (leaks) as well as discover our top five signature strengths to help us plug our leaks. Strengths guru Marcus Buckingham paraphrased the military strategist Sun Tzu, saying, “Keep your strengths close and your weaknesses closer.”

Use my acronym below to help you identify your top personal and professional leaks (weaknesses) today.


What activity do you hate to do with a passion? You’re going to laugh when I confess this but I loathe dealing with the cable TV remote control or anything related to hooking up a DVD and cables.


What activity do you want to avoid and get someone else to do? In business, I avoid entering data and dealing with QuickBooks.


What activity is a weakness in your life or business that, no matter how much you learn or practice it, you will only be average or below average in performance?


What activity, no matter how much you improve (and I recommend improving your weakness to a point) there is still a kink in your stomach? A feeling of stress and strain.

We all have weaknesses, but you don’t have to sink! Here are some ways to PLUG your leaks.

sailing sunset


Plan on consciously using one or more of your strengths to boost your weaknesses. For example, if “belief” is one of your strengths, then speak on a topic in which you can share strong beliefs. If you’re high in “responsibility,” use it to help you follow through with quality.


You will likely have to do some public speaking in your work and life, but what if you could eliminate 80% of public speaking? Of course, don’t volunteer for public speaking jobs. Make it clear to your boss and team that you want to decrease any opportunity that could create public speaking moments.


Whom on your team could you unite with that excels at public speaking? Who loves public speaking and could take the pressure off of you? Many companies hire a spokesperson. You can, too, in critical public speaking situations. Who knows! You could even barter with someone who has the strength of public speaking.


No matter how hard we try, we all have to do things that involve our weaknesses. Go to Toastmasters or hire a coach to help you maximize your speaking abilities. Grow in the basics and let it go. Take the pressure off yourself to be the best at everything. Instead, invest your time and energy in your strengths.

Remember to “keep your friends close and your weaknesses closer.” PLUG your leaks so you can sail, not sink.

Are you interested in building a strengths-based culture?

Download 52 ideas for strengths-based culture

Topics: Engagement, Strengths, Personal Growth

Brent O'Bannon

Written by Brent O'Bannon

Brent O'Bannon is the world's first Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. He has facilitated more than 27,000 coaching sessions and given more than 750 presentations to organizations across the globe. Brent's bestselling book, "Selling Strengths" helps coaches get paying clients by using their strengths. He is a Munyay Approved Coach.