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However, the message is confusing. It says: To be successful, we need only half of our selves—our strengths. By redefining the concept of strengths, I have created a framework that describes all of the ways that a person can think, feel, and behave as strengths.

How is it that we don't have weaknesses?

We are so used to thinking in a positive-negative framework, which is a self-limiting way of thinking. So, it's almost natural that when we think about a strength we have, we immediately start looking for a negative, or a weakness. For example, if you see yourself in positive terms as outgoing and gregarious, you might think negatively about yourself when you are quiet and less expressive. I want you to see yourself not in terms of strengths and weaknesses but in terms of opposite strengths.
By learning how to exploit your "weaknesses," you can turn them to your advantage

Do you believe—as most of us have been led to—that you have strengths and weaknesses? Psychologist Tommy Thomas believes something quite different: that people have only strengths. He believes that once you get hold of the idea that your weaknesses are actually strengths, you'll have twice as many personal strengths—ones not often recognized—to draw on.


Tommy was in my neck of the woods recently to give a speech to a group of CEOs, and we met at my house for a conversation about strengths. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation:

Can you explain how you define a strength?


TT: A strength is a conceptual way to reduce a lot of information into a single idea. We use these ideas to identify specific related aspects of a person's ability to think, feel, and behave.

We are taught early on that those things that we are not good at are "weaknesses" and should be disguised and ignored
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