How to Use Your Strength: The Rule of Strength and Weakness

A woman learns how to use her strength of confidence without it becoming a weakness

Want to know how to use your strength without letting them become weaknesses? Follow the “Rule of Strength and Weakness.”

Let me tell you about Mark and Jan.
Mark leads a team of 30 people. He’s great at helping people to extend out of their comfort zone, and respectfully challenging them to do more. He moves fast, always quick to “run the experiment,” i.e., test out new ideas and then make adjustments as needed.
Because of these strengths, Mark gets results.
Not everyone’s comfortable with Mark’s management style, though. They see his focus on productivity as just ticking boxes off a list, and feel that he lacks genuine interest in them. And sometimes in his attempts to move quickly, things backfire—leading to lost time and money.
Now, let me tell you about Jan.
Jan also leads a large team. People love working for her because she’s empathetic; they feel she “gets” them. And because she’s good at building relationships, turnover on her team is low. Since she’s analytical by nature, Jan can get to the root causes of a problem without wasting time on “band-aid” solutions.
But because of her empathy, Jan hates conflict and tends to avoid it. At times, this causes her to push off difficult conversations, even if they’re sorely needed. Since she doesn’t like to “push” people, the important things sometimes get missed. And the same analytical nature that helps in some cases hurts in others—because it causes her team to miss opportunities.
Now, let me ask you:
Who are you more like, Mark or Jan?

Both Jen and Mark have major strengths—and leveraging those strengths can help them get the most out of their teams. But taken too far, those strengths turn into weaknesses, and actually hold everyone back from reaching their full potential.


There’s an emotional intelligence tool that can help Jen, Mark, and you too. It’s called:

The Rule of Strength and Weakness

The Rule of Strength and Weakness is based on something I read in an article offering marriage advice, which I found applied to all kinds of relationships.



A person’s strengths and weaknesses are often different facets of the same quality, like two sides of a coin. They are inextricably linked, so that you cannot discard one without the other.



The Rule of Strength and Weakness, then, goes like this:


A strength can also be a weakness; so, leverage the strength, and mitigate the weakness.


The Rule of  Strength and Weakness helps you to build self-awareness, the ability to understand your own emotional tendencies and behavior. It then encourages you to devise a plan to manage that behavior.

And how do I do that? you ask…
Here are three things that can help:

1. Find the right partner.

One of the best ways to keep your weaknesses in check is to find someone you trust with whom you can speak and bounce ideas off of. This could be a colleague, a spouse or family member, or even a friend.
The key is to find someone who has a different perspective from you, someone who excels where you struggle, and vice-versa—because it’s those people who can help you the most.

2. Use your other rules.

Once you identify your weaknesses, you can use the “rules” you’ve learned through this newsletter to help you minimize them.
For years, I struggled with a tendency similar to Jan’s. My strength was to be empathetic and understanding to others; however, this also led me to avoid necessary conversations or to hold back from saying things that I should.
To help me fight this tendency, I use methods like:
These rules are helpful because they’re simple constructs that I can quickly go through in my mind, to help me speak up and say what needs to be said, in a way that actually helps instead of harms.

3. Practice. Learn. Repeat.

As you build self-awareness, continue practicing rules one and two. But remember, despite your best efforts, you will still fail (at times).
Treat those failures as chances to learn. View them as case studies into your own behavior. Strive to identify what went wrong, and what events and actions contributed to it going wrong.
Then, try again.
Practice alone won’t make perfect…but it will make better.
After all, nobody’s perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses.
But when you build self-awareness, you can then work to leverage your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.
And it doesn’t get any more emotionally intelligent than that.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy more of our emotional intelligence tools: simple frameworks to help you better understand and manage emotions, communicate more effectively, and build stronger relationships.
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