Why Do We Fear Our Weaknesses?

The best leaders know that a person will learn and grow the most where she is already strong. This shouldn’t be a very controversial statement – it’s rather obvious when you look at it. Yet why, again and again, do we choose to work on our weaknesses over leveraging our strengths? Why do the majority of people, regardless of country or age, still think that fixing their weaknesses will help make them more successful?

Fear. We know – or at least, I hope by this point you know – that the best way to become more creative, more resilient, more productive, and more engaged is to focus on your strengths. Yet so many people, myself included, often let fear drive us to fixating on our weaknesses.

We fear our weaknesses; so we attempt to fix them. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to stop. This week – and yes, every week in the future, but let’s start small – this week, let’s admit that we have weaknesses. Let’s admit that we have them, and let’s push them to the side. Focus on your strengths this week, and see what it feels like when you live without fear.



  1. Crystal February 7, 2018 at 11:43 AM - Reply

    I was born with sever damage to my pituitary gland, which left me growth hormone deficient. Talk about having a weakness. I was so blessed during my adolescence to have family and teachers support my strengths. I was never going to get an athletic scholarship, and if I spent time comparing myself to those with ideal figures, I would have gone mad…amazingly I was able to buy copies of Seventeen and filter out what was useful from what was not. I was encouraged to embrace my own creativity, my ability to connect ideas and people, and my resiliency and have used that to bring new solutions to my work environment…an believe me, you need to have resilience to bring out change.

    • Mary Hayes February 12, 2018 at 12:54 PM - Reply


      Thank you for your comment. There is a great Ted talk by Stella Young about something very similar.
      You have overcome your weakness by focusing on what strengthens you.


    • Meredith Bohling February 12, 2018 at 3:58 PM - Reply

      Crystal, your story is so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  2. Tiffany March 27, 2018 at 6:00 AM - Reply

    I’m in engineering. We always want to “fix things”. Plus, I had always grown up scared of my weaknesses that I’d be exposed as, oh I don’t know, human. Then I started looking at teams, particularly choirs and hockey leagues. If you’re baritone, Madam won’t have you singing first soprano. If you’re quick but rash on the ice, you get counselled but encouraged to rapidly take your opportunities with patience. To do otherwise, not only is it preposterous, it’s a pathetic waste of talent. The coaches know their members strengths and use them to create that team harmony and cohesiveness and also individual development. Then when you get to work you get pitted against your – team – members by managers because we’re supposed to be inanimate inarticulate tiresome mechanical robots [It’s more of a system failure than any one individual, really]. I’m glad this refreshing concept of what are “strengths” and what are “weaknesses” is so liberating and gives us such beneficial insight.

  3. Gerald Hand June 27, 2022 at 5:40 AM - Reply

    We fear our weakness for a couple reasons I believe. 1. We are constantly reminded of what we already know we are not good at. 2. We come from a perfect beginning and strive for perfection. I feel this is why we often forget the praises we receive (OK- I have that thing/performance/behavior down, now next is what I do NOT have down and start working on that) in order to become MORE perfect. Often times sports can reinforce that; a batter missing a breaking ball pitch, a QB misreading the defense, a golfer working on their swing. Grades certainly form that condition at an early age since we must pass ALL classes but alas, not everyone is adroit at math or history.

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