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Strengths, weaknesses, personal brand? Think toaster!

Discussions about strengths and weaknesses pop up regularly in coaching and sometimes in connection with the idea of our ‘personal brand’.

  • What unique combination of strengths do I bring to my work?

  • What should I be known for?

  • What are my unique selling points (USP)?

  • How can I capitalise on what I do well and use my strengths more?

  • How can I mitigate my weaknesses?

In one of these sessions, my client was struggling a bit with how it all fitted together.

My client identified that two of her strengths were passion and confidence. She brought great energy to her work and was willing to get stuck in and have a go without any fear.

BUT, she also recognised that sometimes that combination caused her issues. She could end up being perceived as a bit of a ‘bull in a china shop’. Steaming ahead and not really taking people with her.

It led her to ask...were her passion and confidence strengths or were they really weaknesses? Should she include them in her personal brand?

And thinking about toasters helped make sense of it all!


The job of a toaster is to turn bread into toast.

The USP or personal brand of a toaster might look something like this

  • Good presentation - it’s really stylish and will look great in your kitchen

  • Good at relationships – it’s really easy to use

  • Highly productive - It can toast more slices of bread at once than your average toaster

  • Efficient - It’s economical – it doesn’t use much electricity

  • Effective - It turns bread into toast really quickly, even if the bread is frozen.

These are all strengths, and the combination form the USP of the toaster.

No other toaster is quite like this one.


If you turn the dial of the toaster up too high, you are going to get burnt and inedible toast.

The toaster's strength of effectiveness, when dialled up too high, causes issues.

It turns into a weakness.

And, if you’re used to your old inefficient toaster, and you start using this one, you might think that this toaster is rubbish, as it burns toast really easily. It’s too effective for its own good.

But you’d never see ‘burns toast if you turn the dial up too high’ in any description of this wonder toaster. The overplayed strength is not part of the toaster’s brand.

So how is that useful?

Your personal brand is a summary of your strengths under normal circumstances.

It’s all the good stuff you bring and the combination is unique to you.

If you turn the dial up on your strengths too much they are likely to turn into weaknesses...

Our weaknesses are often overplayed strengths.

So what?

So life is easier and more fun when we’re playing to our strengths.

The more time you can stay in the strength zone without tipping over to weakness the better. It’s all about dial control!

Here’s a personal example to show you how this can be useful.

One of my strengths is that I’m very professional. I have a professional background and have been brought up to deliver work that is of a high standard. I’m committed to doing a good job.

If I overplay this strength, it can turn into perfectionism. I start aiming for perfect. I have to do a good job, I won’t stop until I do and I’ll probably beat myself up if I think I’ve fallen short.

And that’s caused me all sorts of issues in the past. For example, things have taken me way longer than they need to. I’ve not been as productive as I could have been, as I’ve not had enough time to do everything perfectly etc.

Not anymore, thanks to some coaching! Now, I recognise the signs and have a little word with myself!

For example, emails.

I used to faff about endlessly with the wording of my emails creating several versions before I finally hit the send button. It was annoying me, and writing emails was taking up too much time.

Now when I write emails, I have a rule. I write it as I would speak it and allow myself ONE run through and edit before I send.

So, I would recommend having a think about your strengths.

  • What are they?

  • What happens when you overplay them?

  • What problems does that cause?

  • Does that explain your weaknesses?

  • What triggers you to overdo it? What are the situations when you go ‘over the top’?

  • How can you remember to watch out for those?

  • And what could you do or say to yourself in those moments to stay in your strength playing zone and prevent yourself from tipping over into the dark side?

If you’d like to explore working with me as your coach so you can identify and play to your strengths more of the time, please book a free call.

And if you'd like to try out my monthly emails that provide a roundup of my blogs as well as other insights, you can sign up here.


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