Strengths and Weaknesses vs. Personality Profiles


Strengths and weaknesses are not the same as personality labels. 

Personality profiles are your strongest patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior. 

Strengths are those activities that you do well and have a natural passion and ability for.  

The key is to go beyond any personality labels and identify your specific, real world activities that are your strengths and invest your time in those areas. 

In Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance, Marcus Buckingham writes about going beyond personality profiles to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  • Strengths and weaknesses are not personality labels.
  • Personality profiles are your strongest patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior.
  • Strengths are activities that you do well and have a natural passion and ability for.
  • Go beyond personality tests and identify your strengths.
  • You are the best judge of your strengths.

Strengths and Weaknesses are Not Personality Labels

Strengths and weaknesses are not the same as personality profiles. 

Buckingham writes:

“Armed with a strong strengths-based mind-set, you’ll take the next step: identifying your own strengths and weaknesses.  And by strengths and weaknesses, I’m not referring to a list of personality labels such as those you might learn if you took the Clifton StrengthsFinder, or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or the Kolbe Conative Index, or DiSC, or any similar personality-profile.”

Strongest Patterns of Thought, Feeling, or Behavior

According to Buckingham, personality profiles are your strongest patterns of thought, feeling or behavior, not strengths and weaknesses:

“These kinds of profiles ask you to respond to various questions or pairs of descriptive statements.  Then they collate your answers and present you with a summary of your strongest patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior.  For example, my top two patterns as identified by the Clifton StrengthsFinder are Futuristic and Context. 

Futuristic tells me that I am the kind of person who enjoys projecting into the future and seeing images in my head of how much better things could be. 

Context reveals that I tend to be uncomfortable until I understand which factors combine to create the current situation I’m facing or how a particular person came to be who he is.  In short, I love to look forward but need to look back before I can indulge this love.  Or, less generously, since I am fascinated by both the future and the past, I quite often find myself missing out on the present.”

Strengths are Those Specific Activities that You Do Well and Retain a Powerful Appetite

Buckingham writes that strengths are those activities you do well and you retain a powerful appetite:

“These kinds of insights are intriguing to me and to others who need to deal with me, but, to be clear, neither Futuristic nor Context are strengths of mine.  They are merely patterns, predispositions to see and engage with the world in a  particular way.  They can offer a signpost toward my strengths, but they are not my strengths.  My strengths, as defined in Now, Discover Your Strengths, can be found in those activities in which I exhibit “consistent, near-perfect performance.”  My strengths are those specific activities at which I do well and for which I still retain a powerful appetite.”

Go Beyond the Personality Tests and Identify Your Strengths

Buckingham suggests going beyond personality tests to identify your specific, real-world strengths:

“If you are going to join the two out of ten, if you are going to succeed in pushing your time toward your strengths, you must learn how to go beyond the labels of any personality test that you may have taken and identify the specific, real-world activities that constitute your strengths.”

Sift Through the Mudslide of Activities, Responsibilities, and Relationships

You are the best judge of your strengths.  Buckingham writes:

“With the right technique, this isn’t hard to do … You’ll learn whether your strengths are best defined as “what you’re good at” or “what you love to do.”  You’ll learn who the best judge of your strengths is, you or the people around you.  And most important, you’ll learn how to sift through the mudslide of activities, responsibilities, and relationships that each week comes down upon you, and get clear on which are strengths and which are weaknesses.”


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Photo by Sheffield Tiger


  1. Boy, I can’t agree more – go beyond.
    The only limitations that exist, exist in my mind. This can be proven over and over again through athletic accomplishment, publishing fame,
    and a multitude of stories of those who didn’t know they were limited – even the bumblebee.
    What we focus on expands, so why would I focus on what I don’t want, or limits I perceive to be written in stone? Thanks!

  2. @Harmony – Good thing the bumblebee didn’t know it couldn’t fly, or where would it be now. Beatiful point on expansion and limits.

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