Play to your strengths

Kathy Krugerbalance, China, yinyang29 Comments

In Chinese medicine practitioners address weak yang by first strengthening yin.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but the reasoning is pretty simple –


Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses and then work on your weaknesses from a place of strength.

The other thing that sounds counter-intuitive but is actually very wise, is that a ‘weakness’ is often considered to be a ‘strength’ that is simply out of whack.

So in the case of weak yang, it might be that yang aggression is exaggerated. What starts out as confident assertiveness to get a job done (strong yang) has become reactive aggressiveness (weak yang). You might get angry, impatient and defensive. Physically this might manifest as a racing heart-beat and the associated stress of a ‘fight’ response.

The treatment/cure for this situation, in the holistic Chinese approach, would be to strengthen yin qualities, for example deliberation and intuition, and by doing so, take some of the heat/anger/weak yang out of the behaviour. Yin and yang are thus balanced (and so, hopefully, is health and happiness).

On the other hand if someone was overly passive, indecisive and lacking in confidence they could be considered to have weak yin. This could manifest as depression and anxiety or an immune system illness. Strengthening self-esteem and logical thinking (yang) would assist in bringing the yin qualities of careful reflection and confident intuition back into balance.

Ok, so I’m no Chinese medical practitioner or even an amateur expert in the field, but I reckon it all comes down to ‘playing to your strengths’.

Far too often we focus on what we do ‘wrong’ rather than concentrating on what we do well. We berate ourselves and fixate on improving THAT thing we find most difficult.

This may be the general idea if you are talking about improving your ‘weaker’ side when doing yoga balance postures (because the whole idea IS balance), or even doing dance poses. But a choreographer will always play to a dancer’s strengths and a card player should know his strong suit.

And balance doesn’t have to be about ‘levelling up’ your weaknesses to match your strengths, but bringing acceptance to those things we struggle with, while achieving success in those areas in which we are strong.


So here a few tips when it comes to playing to your strengths:

1) Make a list of the things you really can’t/don’t like doing (can’t and don’t like will usually be closely related of course). Can you get someone else to do these things for you (within reason right)? Cross off at least a couple of things that you really can’t/don’t want to do and outsource or make alternatives.

2) Make a list of the things you really can/love doing. Work out how to allocate more time for these things. Especially focus on at least a couple of things you REALLY LOVE but still find a little challenging. These will be things that you can do in order to ‘find your flow’ – your sense of time will disappear and soon you will have fully mastered your flow activities. In the process you’ll renew your creativity and a sense of confidence to tackle those things you find a little more difficult.

3) Now what you are left with are the things you either haven’t listed (but still need doing) or that are left-over from your picks in the first two lists. They could be a bit boring or simply things you need more skills to take on effectively. Make the decision to bring acceptance to the things you find less fulfilling if they need to be done and decide to challenge (and train) yourself to take on the other things as best you can. They could turn into future strengths, or just support you in making the most of your real strengths (eg learning basic graphic design skills will help you with make the most of your real talent for writing if you want to be a successful blogger).

Playing to your strengths is not about ignoring your character flaws, because we can all work on these!

Finding, and playing to your strengths can be a way to address your weaknesses, not by obsessing about turning them into strengths, but so they simply become a less important part of who (you think) you are!

Tell us your top strengths (go on gush) and are there weaknesses you could be focusing less on (go on own up)?

Now here is my crow pose – nothing to crow about! Arm balances are a bit of a yoga ‘weakness’ for me, and that’s fine until the one day I find I can actually do them.  It will happen if I focus on balance!


And speaking of yoga, congratulations to the lovely Renee – Mummy, Wife, Me – I’d love to send you a copy of Mother Om, written by the gorgeous Leonie Percy of Yoga Mamata, just for commenting on my recent review of the book.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for another week of IBOT.


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Kathy KrugerPlay to your strengths

29 Comments on “Play to your strengths”

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Lydia – not far to fall, but best not face-first into glasses! I went to a workshop and they said the secret is the balance comes from strong core, pulling your shoulder up into your back and opening your chest (and heart) forward – the arms are just appendages!

  1. Me

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post – it makes so much sense to me and what I should be doing !!
    Thank you for sharing. And, I love the photo – well done on crow pose – I could never manage it because my arms were too weak 🙁
    Have the best week !
    Me xox

  2. Jodi Gibson (JF Gibson Writer)

    Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses and then work on your weaknesses from a place of strength. — Love this! It makes such perfect sense.
    And just tried the crow pose….. got there for about 4 seconds. I’m off to try again. Determination is one of my strengths 😉

  3. coloursofsunset

    I’m going to make these lists. I currently employ a “fake it til you make it” strategy with my weaknesses. Tonight I’m going to a launch party for a program at uni that I applied for and got into. I am going to have to fake my confidence for 2 hours! Maybe by the end of the 2 hours I won’t have to try so hard! x

  4. Zanni Arnot

    Hmmm, looking at that photo I think my weakness is my arms! I am deceptively weak in the shoulder area 😉 My other weakness is social media. It’s not that bad, but it saps my energy, when I could be putting it towards other more beneficial things. My strengths are my ability to get on with stuff. Like today I wrote another whole chapter of the learner guide I am working on despite an author talk happening in the library where I am working. 🙂 x

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Clearly the ability to concentrate under trying circumstances is one of your biggest strengths – which helps you with lots of your other strengths I’m sure. I agree on social media being a weakness, but sometimes it does lift you up.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I actually should have my head up and my chest pushed out a bit more, but apparently my heart isn’t open enough just yet and I need to work on my core. But hey, glad you like it, and the list too.

  5. Pinky Poinker

    I used to be able to do the crow. I used to be able to do a lot of things like get up off the floor without having to embarrass myself. Great advice Kathy. I’ve bookmarked this so I can come back and take notes later 🙂

  6. mummywifeme

    Kathy, I finally made it here after a hectic day. Thank you so much for the Mother Om book. I am chuffed to bits and ever so grateful. I can’t wait to read it. Look at you and that crow pose. Amazing. I like the idea of playing to our strengths to address our weaknesses. I need to start making a list over the next few days 🙂

    1. Kathy Kruger

      You are most welcome and I’m sure you’ll find it a nice, uplifting read with some useful tips. It would be great if you could give a shout out to Leonie/Yoga Mamata at some stage. I love how yin-yang thinking gives us new ways of looking at things like strengths and weaknesses.

  7. Druimé N

    I can see this post being very useful to me Kathy. I am discovering more and more about my strengths and weaknesses especially when it comes to work. Love your crow and little yang. Thanks for this Kathy !

  8. Michelle@myslowlivingadventure

    It’s like a really positive way of looking at and working on your flaws isn’t it? I guess culturally we are conditioned to look at things as either good or bad. In Chinese tradition, your worst trait is just your best trait a bit out of kilter!! That’s a fantastic way of thinking.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Hi Michelle – I love exploring yin-yang thinking – see it isn’t black and white or right or wrong, it is much more nuanced and ever changing hence the circle and the essence of yin being in yang and vice versa. I’m lucky adopting our kids from China has really opened up the interest that was there but a latent in eastern philosophy.

  9. Tegan Churchill

    Love this post! I could definitely apply this to the current work that I am doing on my core beliefs and emotions. One of the things that my psych repeats a lot to me is that emotions all have a place, they all serve a purpose, there is no bad and good ones. I think that is a little like the strengths and weaknesses. I struggle with anger and sadness the most and feel overwhelmed with those two emotions, and so we are working to balance those out with emotions that I do feel comfortable with.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I love your insights Tegan – you sound like the best person a therapist could have as a client in terms of really reflecting and working on what you learn in the sessions. And your psych and you are right – we have a mixed muddle of emotions and that’s what makes life colourful and what makes us grow.

  10. Lizzy - Muddle-Headed Mamma

    Brilliant post, kathy. I find it a hard question to answer about myself, but I think one of my strengths is being a good listener and one of my weaknesses is taking on other people’s emotions and worrying about things I have no control over … definitely some balance needed there! Loving that crow pose btw! If I could do that without falling on my face and breaking my nose, I would be beyond proud of myself 🙂

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Hey Lizzy – I think your strength and your ‘weakness’ are related to each other – it is because you are such a good listener that you take on other people’s feelings. As you say, balance is the key, hard to do sometimes, like crow pose – but not impossible.

  11. Grace

    Check out the guns on that crow pose! Amazing work, lovely lady!
    My strengths are my networking skills. Give me a room of strangers and I will work that crowd while one of my weaknesses is not taking enough risks.

  12. homelifesimplified

    Great post and photo. My strengths are creative thinking and empathy, weaknesses Include impatience and self sabotage. Deb xx

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