Gratitude for Weakness

by  Mike Henry  |  Self Leadership

You hear a lot about strengths. I’m a huge fan of the whole focus on strengths led by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton in their book, Now Discover Your Strengths and followed by Tom Rath and the Gallup folks with their books Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Strengths Based Leadership (by Rath with Barry Conchie).

Before this, as a people we concentrated for more than a generation on our weaknesses. The thought was, if we could  improve our weaknesses, we would be better. The study of Strengths gave us the freedom to move forward, appreciate what we are uniquely gifted to do, and walk in those strengths.

On this Thanksgiving Day, as I consider things for which I’m thankful, I decided this year I need to be thankful for my weaknesses. That’s right. I’ve never appreciated my weaknesses more than I do today. (And I may not be so happy about them tomorrow either, so I figured I’d write some of this down.) I can think of 4 reasons I’m grateful for weaknesses

4 Grateful Attitudes toward Weakness

Weaknesses make me dependent on others. Without my weaknesses, I would never notice the truly great strengths in others. When I’m as objective as I can be, people who are truly gifted at the things I do cause me to express gratitude to be around people better than me. We all need people who are better than we are. Our proper dependence on others (not co-dependence) makes us better.

Weaknesses make me empathetic of others. Were it not for my own weaknesses, I’d judge you. I’m way too quick to judge and criticize others when they are weak where I might be strong. Judgment separates. Strength comes through unity. Weaknesses remind me that no one is perfect, including me, and that makes me more understanding, more credible, and more of a team player.

Weaknesses make me remember my place. Almost as an extension of the empathy point above, no one attracts others when they think more highly of themselves than they should. At our most arrogant, we’re also our most repulsive, or at least I am. When I understand where I fit in relation to others and the rest of the world, I’m most productive. My energy doesn’t create collateral damage in others. My passion fits, elevates and enables others. “We” (the global, community “we”) become more productive when we’re each energized by the passion of others. I can’t bring my energy to any relationship without offending others unless I accurately know my place.

Weakness makes me strong. When “WE” are strong, I am strong. In fact, I’m never stronger than when I’m united with strong people. People won’t share their strength in an environment that is void of trust. Gratitude for others’ strengths make me someone they’ll join and as a result, I am stronger. The stronger the people are to which I’m rightly connected, the stronger I am. (Note: for Christians, see how this applies to our relation to Christ in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “… power is perfected in weakness.”)

Weakness Creates Teams

Weakness makes me someone others will join. Great leaders are joined, not followed. Weaknesses enable sincerity, humility, empathy, gratitude and trust; 5 keys to building great teams. There’s nothing like being a part of a winning team.

I’m grateful for my friends and family who have sacrificed to give me the freedom to be involved in Lead Change. I’m grateful for your time in reading this post. I’m grateful to all of the very strong people from all over the world with whom I’ve connected. And I’m grateful for what you’ve shared and the opportunity we’ve shared to make the world better. Thank you.

What about you? Would you take a minute to share what you’re thankful for?  Or do you have some other reasons we should be grateful for weaknesses?  Please add your comments below. Discussion makes us all better. Thanks for your participation.

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About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Karin Hurt  |  24 Nov 2012  |  Reply

This is a tremendous perspective. Weaknesses really do create interconnectivity… and interconnectivity creates magic and makes life fun.

Mike Henry  |  24 Nov 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Karin. This partly came as a response to a book discussion last week where we were all talking about Page Cole’s chapter on Strengths in The Character-Based Leader. It’s fun to feel and express gratitude for something you haven’t considered in a positive light before. Thanks for the comment and for being part of the revolution. Mike…

Samantha  |  24 Nov 2012  |  Reply

Great post, Mike.

Yes, I am also familiar with the Strengthfinders 2.0 book. I picked it up as a recommendation from a friend awhile back. While I do love the idea of knowing where my more natural strengths and gifts are, I was also cognizant of how we could easily fall into confusing moral issues as being the weaknesses we can ignore, if that makes sense! :) ie Someone who’s strength lies in teaching as opposed to ‘giving’ could easily use that as an excuse to NEVER give if they are in a position to do so. This is just one example of many scenarios I’m sure we can come up with.

I loved all of the points you highlighted. Especially this one:

‘Weaknesses make me empathetic of others. Were it not for my own weaknesses, I’d judge you. I’m way too quick to judge and criticize others when they are weak where I might be strong. Judgment separates.’

In the same vein as I shared above, this is also the other side of the coin. This is where we have an opportunity to accept that I have certain strengths that others may not have and vice versa. Sometimes we mistakenly judge simply over the diversity of our natural gifts and talents. Judging someone who doesn’t have a talent for speaking and teaching when it’s simply not their gift! haha

Thanks for sharing your heart and thoughts Mike. I really like this post.


Mike Henry  |  28 Nov 2012  |  Reply

Samantha, thanks for the great comment. I’m sorry I overlooked it and just approved it today. An accurate assessment of our strengths and weaknesses is key, but also so is an accurate appreciation for them as well. Thanks again for the connection and the comment.


Xiaoteng Ma  |  25 Nov 2012  |  Reply

I really liked this post, Mike. I’ve never looked at having weaknesses that way, and I think you offered great insight in your post. I’m definitely a lot more grateful for my weaknesses now. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Henry  |  28 Nov 2012  |  Reply

Xiaoteng, thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate the feedback. Mike…

Scott Anderson  |  02 Jan 2013  |  Reply

This is a profound post. It is an excellent perspective on weaknesses, in light of the focus on strengths. I remember my strengths from StrengthsFinder 2.0, but am thinking that I should go back and see what areas I scored the lowest in. I don’t remember if it showed that or not.

People have a tendancy to gravitate towards people that are similar to them, but your post reiterates how important it is to avoid this. My Analytical strength now logically realizes that I should seek out people with their greatest strenghts in my areas of greatest weakness. And, conversely, I can be of most help to those that have their greatest weaknesses where my greatest strengths are.

Those last couple of lines may not be far off from the content that is in the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book, but I think your approach to thinking about weakness puts it in a different light.

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