Marcus Buckingham Is Wrong

By slideshow Bob, via FlickrMarcus Buckingham is one of the most powerful brands in business consulting, boosted even more by his recent alliance with Oprah. I’m sure you’ve seen or read his books, including First, Break All the Rules, and Now, Discover Your Strengths.

But after listening to a long podcast interview with Marcus last week, I am convinced that he is wrong. Or at least, half wrong. And the half he gets wrong is horribly bad advice if you’re looking to get more from your life.

What he’s gotten right: It is really important to discover your strengths. Know thyself, right? I’ve done the same, with the help of coaches and classes, and it has enriched my life beyond measure.

This self-discovery journey also uncovered my weaknesses – it’s an inescapable part of the process. And with the help of these coaches, I can now do a lot of things that I thought I never could.

But Marcus would deprive you of that experience. In the podcast he says, “Your weaknesses aren’t to be worked on. They are to be neutralized. They are to be managed around.” Don’t improve them, he says, because “they are your areas of least opportunity.”

What a horrible prescription for boredom and sterility! Taken to its logical extreme, such advice freezes our lives into place as we were at age 8. We would never grow, never learn, and never experience the richness of life.

Luckily, most people have more sense than that. Even Marcus says most people would want to work on their strengths. Well, thank heavens for that!

My joys in life come from the discovery of the new. Perhaps this growing process is related in some way to my strengths, but if I were convinced that I could never grow, and couldn’t ever do something, well … what a boring, limited life I would be leading.

So, by all means, discover your strengths. But never let those strengths define your limits.