The Danger of Strengths Use

You know that using your strengths produces tons of benefits.

They can super-boost your energy, enhance your engagement, and drive you to higher levels of performance and life satisfaction! Learn more about how awesome your strengths are and how to identify them here.

But what about the potential dangers of strengths misuse?

As we dive deeper into intentional strengths development in this second segment, I will expose you to a new side of the strengths conversation that often is overlooked until it’s too lateDon’t become a strengths victim.

ducks Context Counts

Take a moment to think about the steps it takes when you are developing a skill – like playing a musical instrument or learning a new language. You most likely start by understanding the basics notes and words, and then progress into more complex scales or conversations.

As you become more proficient and the initial excitement (or frustration!) wears off, you learn to use this new skill more or less depending on the situation and people you are with. For example, it is less likely that you will pick up a clarinet at a dinner party than a concert or break into speaking German at your neighborhood dry cleaner. And as you grow in this new skill, you learn when, where, how, and why to use it appropriately and effectively.

You should approach strengths development the same way: Determine what strengths to use in what amount given the specific circumstance. Alex Linley from the Centre of Applied Positive Psychology in the UK calls this the Golden Mean of Strengths Use – using the right strength, in the right amount, in the right way, at the right time based on situational requirements.

Golden Mean

Since strengths are dynamic potentials that change based on context, it is not simply enough to identify and use your strengths more. You must intentionally apply them based on situational demands in order to develop them appropriately so they don’t backfire!

Strengths Misuse

Developing your strengths often has related social costs and consequences. Here are some areas to note where your strengths can work against you and even potentially cause harm:

Strengths Blindness: Your strengths seem so natural that work flows effortlessly when you use them. Consequently, you may overlook your strengths because you view them as ordinary instead of recognizing them as extraordinary. Peterson and Seligman, creators of the Values in Action (VIA) Survey, share that this occurs because strengths are often so interwoven with personal values. As a result, you are more apt to consider the natural actions your strengths produce as “the right thing to do,” rather than a unique behavior pattern that is driven by your strengths. Start taking ownership of your strength’s impact and the values that drive your life!

Strengths Disappointment: We all experience failure…and it can hurt! But it stings even more when you fail in an area of perceived strength because you have much higher levels of associated optimism with a proven track record of success. When facing setbacks with your strengths, it’s normal to become more self-critical or frustrated compared to experiencing failure in an area of weakness. By predicting and preparing for this failure, you can help cognitively and emotionally minimize this disappointment and rebound even faster!  

Strength Assumptions: Have you ever assumed that just because you were good at something, others must be as well? Well, you’re not alone! Psychologists Ross, Greene, and House found that individuals often overestimate the similarity of other’s actions and thoughts to their own, creating a type of false consensus bias. Check your strengths assumptions as you get to know the strengths of your family, friends, and colleagues so you can avoid potential frustration and improve your relationships as you continue developing your strengths.

Become Strengths Savvy

These three considerations are just a few things to be mindful of when applying your strengths across different situations. In my final post in this strengths series, I’ll share more about developing strengths based on three levels of proficiency, frequency, and regulation to help you become a more strengths savvy leader.


Biswas-Diener, R., Kashdan, T.B., & Minhas, G. (2011). A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention. Journal of Positive Psychology.

Linley, A. (2008). Average to A+: realizing strengths in yourself and others. Coventry, UK: CAPP Press.

Peterson, C. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ross, L., Greene, D., & House, P. (1977). The false consensus effect: An egocentric bias in social perception and attribution processes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 13, 179-301.

Web signature

LWI Logo Transparent

Leslie Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC

Fulfillment Specialist & Leadership Coach
Call: 310.409.9240

 Subscribe here to stay connected!


Super-Boost Your Energy With Your Strengths

What if you could figure out how to have all the energy you need each day? 

How would that change your life? 

What could you do then?


Doing too much of what you’re not good at drains your energy. So does doing too much of what you are good at. Your energy level is directly related to how your use your strengths. When you identify your natural strengths and work from them, you increase your motivation, focus, and confidence – and SUPER-BOOST your energy!

In the last decade, psychological research supporting the benefits of strengths use has exploded! Studies have shown that people who use their strengths more are happier and more confident, perform better and are more engaged at work, have higher levels of energy and vitality, and experience lower levels of stress, among other positive results (see CAPP’s research here for more details).

Strengths 2

As more organizational leaders, educators, managers, and coaches eagerly tap into the many benefits of strengths use, it’s important to consider how we can best identify and develop strengths in our employees, clients, and personal lives.

From my own research and practice, here are some fundamental things to consider as you begin to hone your strengths:

Strengths aren’t just something you’re good at. Often we notice high levels of achievement or performance and attribute this to using our strengths. But have you ever felt drained after doing something you’re really good at? Your strengths are naturally energizing and should boost your mood and motivation, leaving you in a state of focused flow. If you feel like you’re working too hard using your so-called strengths, chances are you’re actually working from learned behaviors instead.

Strengths use changes with context and can cause harm. Since strengths are dynamic potentials individuals’ naturally possess, they must be applied appropriately based on situational demands. If the wrong strength is used out of context, it can potentially backfire and cause psychological harm. Sound scary? Don’t worry, we’ll dive deeper into strengths development in the next post to help you guard against strengths misuse.

Strengths help you live and lead more authentically. Like putting on your favorite jeans, working from your strengths should feel right. So right, in fact, that often individuals are blind to their own strengths because they apply them so naturally in their lives. By identifying and intentionally living and leading from your strengths, you will be able to express you values through your actions more authentically.

Try This At Home


Consider the areas of your life that give you more energy. Maybe they are activities that you can get lost in for hours or experiences where you feel the most powerful. Take a moment to write these down now.

What common themes or trends do you see? Maybe it’s a love of adventure or focus on creativity. These are you strengths indicators that, when correlated with higher levels of performance, can help you identify areas of natural strength.

Survey Says! 

In addition to identifying your strengths naturalistically based on your levels of energy and performance, many people prefer to take formal strengths assessments like the free Values in Action (VIA) Survey. You can also take other credible strengths assessments for a small fee, such as Gallup’s StrengthsFinder2.0 or CAPP’s Realise2 strengths assessment. Each of these strengths identification tools has its own personal flavor and will help deepen your self-awareness in your strengths-discovery process.

Want More Support?

Contact me to learn how we can partner together as you identify and develop your natural strengths. I specialize in working with individuals and organizational teams through strengths-based coaching and group facilitation. Check out more about my approach to strengths development and connect with me to get started today!

Upcoming Events 

register_now_buttonLiving and Leading From Your Strengths

Join me on Monday, July 29th from 6:30-8:30pm at the Portland Powerhouse for an in-depth exploration of your strengths! During our time together, you will learn how to:

  • Identify your natural strengths and those of others
  • Ditch draining learned behaviors and manage weaknesses
  • Apply your strengths to improve your relationships and leadership
  • Re-energize your life by intentionally developing your strengths 

This eye-opening, interactive workshop will transform how you live at your bestimprove your relationships, and amplify your leadership.

Register online today for only $99!

SoloProRadio Interview Wednesday


Tune in online Wednesday morning at 11am PDT to listen to me describe my coaching journey and advice to other entrepreneurs. Can’t make it then?  You can access the recording online here after the show. For more details, click here.


Centre of Applied Positive Psychology. (2010). Why Strengths? The Evidence.

Web signature

LWI Logo Transparent

Leslie Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC

Fulfillment Specialist & Leadership Coach
Call: 310.409.9240

 Subscribe here to stay connected!


Celebrating Freedom: This Day in History, 1776

independence-day“Freedom in general may be defined as the absence of obstacles to the realization of desires.” ~Bertrand Russell

Freedom. A single word that holds so much meaning and power on individual to international levels. People living today have more choices than ever before and the freedom to pursue options that were not available even one decade ago.

As our nation celebrates Independence Day this week, I invite you to jump in your time machine and take a moment to remember the legacy of freedom that so many have fought to obtain and maintain over past generations.

During the American Revolution, the vision of independence from Great Brittan was powerful and propelled many individuals to get behind the cause in order to create a better future for their families. After the war ended, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776 – that’s 237 years ago today!

This vote resulted in the widely known Declaration of Independence prepared by the Committee of Five, including Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and John Adams. In a letter to his wife, Abigail, John Adams wrote:

L17760703jasecond_3lg“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Celebration. Deliverance. Commemoration. Adams highlights all of these themes as reminders of what we have experienced as a nation so we can better value the independence we enjoy now and the privileges associated with this freedom. Celebrating Independence Day on July 4th is an annual reminder of this freedom and the liberty it provides.

freedom-cage1One powerful way we can honor this legacy is by considering what we have gained personal independence from in our own lives.

In addition to the national freedoms so many have fought and sacrificed for, take a moment to consider other freedoms that you can celebrate in your life that are worthy to acknowledge. Maybe it is overcoming a significant obstacle like weight loss or illness. Or persevering through a challenge at work or in your family life and gaining perspective on the other side.

What have you declared freedom from in order to create lasting and powerful change?  Take out a piece of paper and create your Personal Independence List.

Looking at this list, what are three ways you can celebrate your independence as you emerge into a new chapter of your life?

Now put this list into action! How will you fight for and maintain this freedom in the next week? Month? Year?

Whatever has set you free, make time to celebrate how you have experienced transformation in your own life.

As you light up your barbeques and watch the fireworks ignite later this week, remember to also consider what independence you are celebrating.

What new meaning does freedom have for you this year? 

Web signature

LWI Logo Transparent

Leslie Bosserman, M.Ed., CPCC

Fulfillment Specialist & Leadership Coach
Call: 310.409.9240

 Subscribe here to stay connected!