Are Strengths and Weaknesses Interchangeable?

If you were asked to write a list of your strengths and weaknesses, how many qualities would be on both sides?

So often in life we think that our strengths are our best personality traits and many quietly ignore their weaknesses, secretly hoping that makes them go away.

What if your strengths and weaknesses were interchangeable?

What if something you viewed as a weakness in yourself (or someone else), was really part of one of their strengths?

Our society loves to place people in boxes.  We often say someone is too tall, too short, too loud, too quiet, too uptight, too relaxed, too messy, too bold, too confident, too guarded, too daring, too optimistic, too black and white…you get the picture.  (Don’t even get me started about how politics try to box people in and judge…)

What if we lived without judgement?

What if we saw people for their strengths?

What if we acknowledged that strengths and weaknesses are really interchangeable depending upon the situation?

How would that change our relationships?


One of the greatest aspects of raising our twins is seeing how 2 completely different kids happened to be born at the same time.

One child loves fluidity and has no concept of time and the other loves structure and timing is everything.  Both children are “right”, for there is no “wrong”.

While it is true that the child who loves fluidity is often late (because time doesn’t enter into his brain pattern as something important to keep track of) I can totally see him using this lack of care for time to his advantage.  He loves animals and wants to study wild animals and how they live by being around them.  I picture him living with the cheetahs like this man.   There is no need for the concept of time in this line of work.

If I hounded him and said I was disappointed in him for not having a concept of time, I would be creating doubt in the very aspect of his personality that will shine in his profession down the road.

My other son loves time and structure.  So much so that he becomes disgruntled if we change the schedule.   This son is very analytical.  He loves math and anything to do with how things work.  He investigates the order of things and his room is always neat and tidy.  I can totally envision him being a computer programmer, an accountant, an engineer, anything that takes precision.  While I don’t love it when he gets disgruntled when I change the schedule, if I tell him I am dissapointed in him that he thrives on structure, then I am undermining some of his best personality traits, traits that will enable him to thrive in his line of work when he gets older.

A few months ago I had an interested conversation with my father-in-law.  He just retired after a successful career as a Vice-President as  a company.  I asked him what he felt made him so successful.  His response was, “Well, I got really good at watching people.  I would see who was good at solving problems, who was good at following through tasks and place people in positions in the company where they would be the most benefit to both the person and the company.  A couple of times I moved people into different divisions and everything changed. Productivity went up, because they were in the right area.  If you find the right job for each person, they become naturally productive.  If somebody gets stuck you find a way for them to get help.”

What if we parented this way?  What if we saw all of our relationships this way?

Anything can be a weakness and a strength at the same time.  It just matters how it is integrated.  Let go of the boxes.

So what can you do as a parent to not make this miss-step?

  • Let go of your ego.
  • Let go of your desire to be right.
  • Shift your perspective.
  • See what you think as a weakness as actually a strength (if integrated correctly).
  • Know that a strength can become a weakness if it is impeding personal growth.

This week when something comes up that bugs you about your child (or another adult for that matter), take a step back and see how this personality trait is actually one of their strengths.  Let go of your judgement and see your child for who they are.

This doesn’t mean that if your child is acting rude you let it go because it is a personality trait, but rather take a moment to understand why they are feeling that way then see if you can help them integrate it better.  Then find a time to compliment your child when they have integrated it in a positive way.  For example, my son who likes to be organized and structured, I compliment him on it regularly when it is of benefit to him (as he is doing his homework on time or cleaning his room.)  This will help him see it is a strength.

If we as parents and caregivers can help our kids see that strengths and weaknesses can be interchangeable depending upon the situation, then we can help them navigate life a little easier.

When was there a time that you shifted your perspective and saw something that you thought was a weakness was actually a strength?  Or what happened when you let go of “the box” and realized that strengths and weaknesses are really interchangeable at times?

Kind Regards,










The arrow image is courtesy of scottchan from

About The Author

Summer Brackhan

Mom, sociologist, teacher, author, musician, world traveler, parenting and health coach who believes healthy living incorporates body, mind and soul and that life is not about living in little boxes, but experiencing everything at its fullest.

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