What to do when you don’t have the strength

We’ve all been there – when you feel you’re in a situation where you just don’t have the strength to get the best outcome. You might be facing change without having a Flexibility strength. Or you might need to work with others but you don’t have Collaboration as a strength. Or you may be needing to think about the future, without the benefit of a Strategic mindedness strength.

What can you do in these situations?

You might second guess yourself, you might feel anxious that you don’t have what it takes, you might even find yourself engaging in negative self-talk, beating yourself up for not having the right stuff. So what can you do when you find yourself in a place where you feel like a fish out of water, lacking confidence, uncertain and in uncharted territory?

Today’s podcast is about what to do when you just don’t feel that you have the strength.



My name’s Dr Paul Brewerton, the Strengths guy, I podcast always on a Monday morning to help you get lift off for your week ahead, even when it’s hard to remember which day of the week it actually is. I podcast about work-life, life-life, home-life, homework-life, so let’s get to today’s transmission on finding the strength when you don’t feel you have it.

Today, I have but 3 tips or options that will help you. I know, I usually have at least 10, but today’s podcast is pretty straightforward in concept, but needs practice to get good at it, so I thought I’d give you a few extra minutes to help you start that practice in the time you’d usually be listening to me.

what to do when you don't have the strength

Option 1- Use the strengths you have

Use one or more strengths that you do have. Think of thing you feel you’re lacking…say it’s being flexible or being energised by change, which is a Flexibility strength, right?

Now, imagine what outcome you’re trying to achieve with that strength that isn’t yours. It might be that you’re looking for a way of navigating change successfully in uncertain times without feeling confused or anxious or exhausted. Then ask yourself what strength can you call on that will help you get there?

Maybe it’s Results focus, to help you get to the end point you’re seeking, with some clear way points along the route that can also make you feel good about making progress.

Or Strategic mindedness, so that you can imagine the possible future that you’re moving towards and make that more tangible and therefore more certain.

Or could it be Efficiency, so that you can create a plan for the here and now that will help you manage yourself better through change and uncertainty every day and every week?

Finally though, what about Critical thinking, so that you can break down the uncertainty and see what actually is controllable and knowable in uncertain times?

You see – there will be a strength or two that you can call on, always, to get the outcome you’re looking for.

Option 1 is to know your strengths and know how to use them to meet the challenge you’re facing, perhaps in a different way to how you’re used to using them.

Option 2 – Call on others who do have the strength you seek

Say you need to Collaborate but you don’t have a Collaboration strength. Think about the people you know or who you need to collaborate with. Find which of them does have that energy for working together to find common ground, dealing effectively with conflict and tension and then moving forward together. Who do you know who does that with little effort and a good deal of energy and enthusiasm?

Once you’ve found them, ask whether you might be able to borrow their strength to learn from them how they do it, to advise you on the best way for you to do the same, or even work alongside them so that you can observe them and get some ideas on your own approach to the situations where you need you to collaborate. Essentially, getting yourself a collaboration coach or mentor.

Other people love being asked to help, particularly in areas where they find something easy or where they have experience or knowledge, so don’t be shy, go and ask them. What’s the worst that can happen? They might say they’re a bit pushed for time at the moment, but that’s OK, nothing lost, right?

Option 2 is to recruit in a strengths coach or mentor whose strength you can borrow and learn from.

Option 3- Push yourself outside your comfort zone

Sometimes, it may feel like the only real option is to learn ways to get good in the area that you find draining. It’s actually quite rare that options 1 AND 2 won’t be available to you but it can happen. If it does, look for some resources and get yourself educated so that you can at least feel more confident and competent in the area that you feel you’re lacking in.

Take Strategic mindedness – the energy for ideating about the future and considering all sorts of future potential scenarios. There are plenty of resources that can help with that activity, from books, to TED Talks, to worksheets, to YouTube videos. For Strategic mindedness, examples are books like Blue Ocean Strategy, Seven Strategy Questions and TED Talks like Your strategy needs a strategy.

Be clear on what you’re looking for and go find some support and get wise on the topic where you’re not clear. But, remember that this won’t be a strength area for you, so be kind to yourself along the way and take the learning in chunks. Learning hurts but if the end goal’s worth it, you’ll get through the pain to enjoy the pleasure.

Option 3 is to get some wisdom and learning and get better in the areas that drain you and where you don’t feel competent or confident.

That’s all for this week, three tips or options on what to do when you don’t have the strength, or you feel you don’t:

  • use one or more strength that you do have,
  • call on others who do have the strength you’re looking for,
  • or push the strength you don’t have outside your comfort zone so you do get more confident in that area.

Good luck finding the strength, you definitely have it in you. Till next time.

This podcast is available on all the major platforms. Find it on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, Stitcher, ACast and Soundcloud.