December 2010

Lisa Kind - Editor

Off the Top | by Kimberly Johnson


The Path to Self-Discovery

Knowing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths and weaknesses. We all have them; do you know yours?

When teaching a resume class at the Institute, I discovered the act of writing a resume was often very daunting to some.

It could be the student's first stab at creating a resume or just dusting off an old resume due to a career change. With either circumstance, I found that understanding personal strengths and weaknesses seemed to be the underlying commonality that made this task so overwhelming for the students.

The act of knowing our strengths and weaknesses is a critical element for many reasons. It can provide you the focus to understand your own contributions to yourself or your team on a daily basis. It can help you understand why certain tasks come naturally and others not so much; hence, making a day more enjoyable or, without understanding, miserable. It can lead you down a wonderful path of self-discovery.

So, how do we identify our strengths and weaknesses? Begin with this exercise:


Write five adjectives or skill sets that best describe you as an individual across a piece of paper. You can utilize the chart below to help stimulate ideas.

Under your five chosen adjectives or skill sets, list all your actions/accomplishments that reflect them via non-profit, work, or educational experiences.

If there are any words that do not have a lot of support, STOP. Is this a current strength or a potential/perceived strength? If it is a potential or perception, choose another adjective. Continue until you have five dominant strengths.

Strengths: Adjectives and Skill Sets

Computer Skills
Customer Service Oriented
Decision Maker
Detail Oriented

Great Communicator
Great Presenter
Independent Worker
Open Minded

Problem Solver
Process Oriented
Strong Follow Through
Task Management
Time Management
Work Under Pressure


Write three adjectives or skill sets that you would like to have but currently exist as a personal weakness.

Under the three chosen adjectives or skill sets, write the experience(s) that made you aware this was not a strength.

Under the experience, write in a different color pen what action(s) you are engaged in to turn this current weakness into a strength.

Please note: weaknesses in my book are fantastic. If a person is aware they have them, they can often become a stronger individual. Our weaknesses can provide humility and a level of consciousness to our actions, thus often turning them into future strengths.

By doing this exercise, you are becoming aware of your personal journey, your point of difference, your personal mission, and your motto—however you want to label it. It will provide you a map to how you want to lead your life. Your point of difference separates you from the hundreds who do the same thing, but not in your way, not with your vision.

Review your strengths, your weaknesses, and your points of difference annually. Unveil your path as one you want to either continue on or abandon. Life is fantastic, especially when you make it yours.

Kimberly Johnson is a successful Cosmetology School owner in Portland, Oregon.  In addition, she serves as Director of Business Development, overseeing a local 12 million dollar salon spa operation with 250 employees with four locations.  To reach Kimberly email her at



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