The Weaknesses Smokescreen.

And so it begins.

My six year old daughter’s life long career battle with those who will want to label and focus on ‘her weaknesses’ (and her own internal self doubt and confusion).

Sophia ‘is easily distracted‘. Sophia ‘has difficulty staying focussed’.  Sophia has ‘a wondering attention‘.

I too used to get that at school… and all the way through my working life. Accordingly, wasted an enormous of time, energy and personal angst in trying to ‘address’ my weaknesses.

Having now actually invested considerable thought, reflection and engaged with sophisticated  tools that measure ability’s and strengths  I have come to recognises what I’ll call the ‘Weakness Smokesecreen’.

You see, all of us have very personal strengths and abilities.  I’ll tell you mine, not out of vanity, but in order that you may see through your own smokescreen.

It has come to pass through learning that I have very high levels of observation – 85% higher than the majority of the population.

So I see things that other people don’t notice. I perceive and remember small changes and notice irregularities. I intuitively use this ability to read facial expressions, notice body language and ‘hear’ inconsistencies (even over the telephone or via email!).  It is in fact a pretty blessed quality to have as a Coach or a Facilitator!

So there is a ‘consequence’ to my high observation ability.

Ask my wife. I can’t sit in a cafe in a window facing position. It’s just too enticing and attractive. I’ll see the kid drop the toy out the buggy. I’ll notice the couple who are hacked off with each other through the body language and facial expression. I’ll be drawn to the cat creeping up on the baby seagull.

So I’ll say to Talane “Did you see that?”

Because she has differing observation abilities to me – guess what? She’ll say no and occasionally like some other folks will be a little exasperated that I’m ‘not focussing’ on her (fair enough). Mind you, she loves the fact that we can travel somewhere for the second time and I’ll remember many useful features along the route just from having passed by once.

Like many folks I just took it for granted that you work hard on your weaknesses and that is the formula for success. It never occurred to me that the cost of that fixation is strengths lying dormant or worse they are withering on the vine.

As we still live in a problem, weakness centric business and social culture it is so easy to lose sight of your strengths and abilities, for them to be hidden by the relentless pressure to fix weaknesses.

Behind every weakness I’d wager there is the counter strength just itching to be developed and nurtured.  Look at what you are labelling weaknesses and figure out what the opposite strength is.

What if Sophia has high observation just like me – I’ll be watching!





Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.


  1. Paul,

    Great blog, it is the insightful thinking and your ability to notice these small nuances in life that enable us and, more importantly you to facilitate changes that allow us to realise our true potential.

    Thank you