Strengths Give Wings: 3 Tips on How to Make Your Potential Soar


Stärken verleihen Flügel. Debora Karsch gibt 3 Tipps, wie du dein Potenzial entfalten kannst

How do we manage not only to have strengths but also to use them? How can we unfold them, and how do we deal with our weaknesses? Debora Karsch is the CEO and shareholder of persolog and at the same time a master trainer for all our models. On her way to becoming a leader, she herself experienced what it takes to work fulfilled and unfold one’s own potential. Here she shares her three most important tips on how to make your strengths soar.

First Tip: Your strengths need the right environment to flourish

What do I mean by that? To explain, let me tell you a story from my own life. At 21, I had my first job where I felt I was in my strengths. But how did that happen? I grew up in a family where personality development was one of many topics discussed at the dinner table, as my father, Friedbert Gay, developed personality analyses. I filled out the persolog® Personality Factor Profile at the age of 13-14 and saw my weaknesses and strengths in black and white. “If she was confronted with her strengths and weaknesses so early, then she must have known early on what she wanted to do,” you might think. The answer is: No, I didn’t know. I stood behind the counter in the ice cream parlor, worked as a waitress in a restaurant, tried myself as a guitar teacher, and also founded a jewelry company during my studies. I tried a bit of everything. So why did it work at 21? The key was that I kept looking for an environment where I wouldn’t look at the clock at 12:05 PM and think, “How am I supposed to get through the rest of the day with good spirits and also look forward to coming back here tomorrow?” I then got a job at a publishing house and suddenly found myself in an environment where I could play to my strengths.


Everyone has strengths

It’s important to realize the following: Everyone has strengths, but it’s not your fault if you can’t unfold them. It may be that, metaphorically speaking, you’re simply playing on the wrong field. Perhaps you’re not playing on the field where you can truly unfold them. You find the fulfilling path when you’re fully on the field of your strengths. So, does it never make sense for us to focus on our weaknesses?


Second Tip: Work on your weaknesses if they hinder the expression of your strengths

As a product manager, I quickly got responsibility. Among other things, for a huge project: a manual for executives. I pushed through that at a fast pace and, as a result, regularly received praise. Everything worked wonderfully. But then there was a somewhat unexpected and not quite optimal turn: the day I received the printed copy. I held the book in my hands, looked at it from every angle, and proudly searched for my name in the imprint. But when I turned the book over, I froze: a spelling mistake on the spine! It wasn’t my imagination, it was real. It was impossible to overlook and impossible to change. How could this happen? The answer: The graphic designer forgot to send me the spine for inspection. That means I never had the spine in front of me, although I would have noticed it if I had looked at the checklists carefully.


Everyone has weaknesses, but everyone is also capable of learning

I went straight to my boss’s office. At that moment, I thought my professional career was over again. My boss’s reaction was a fantastic move as a leader, one that I learned from forever and still celebrate today. She said the following to me: “Your strength of speed has now become a weakness. Think of a strategy to do better next time.” There was no scolding because I had wasted a five-figure sum. She just gave me honest, constructive feedback. I am very grateful that this happened to me so early on. That is how I learned that my low cautiousness can get in the way in such situations and worked on increasing my cautiousness. I still benefit from that today!

So, if you want to make your strengths soar, sometimes you also have to address your weaknesses. We should fully acknowledge our weaknesses and accept that they exist.


Third Tip: Assume you are never at the end of the road

You will never reach your full potential. Here, too, I want to tell a story from my life. When I was 16, I wanted to take the train home from school. I had forgotten my train ticket, had no money with me, and simply didn’t feel like walking 5 kilometers home. So, I thought, “I’ll make it easy and see if someone picks me up hitchhiking.” The amazing thing was: Someone stopped, but that someone was my German teacher, from whom I had received an essay graded with a smooth 4 earlier that day. I got into the car. She tried to make small talk with me and asked if I was satisfied with my grade. My answer was, “Yes, 4 is a win.” After that, she said a sentence that haunted me mentally for years: “Yes, Debora, this thing with you and writing, that probably won’t work out.” I actually always enjoyed writing. Until that German teacher, I was also always very good at German. At that time, my plan was to do something with journalism. Therefore, it wasn’t just any sentence that was uttered; it was one that really hit me deep. However, the biggest mistake was that I believed her. Today, 25 years later, I have written and published 6 books. Since 2014, I have been the editor-in-chief of a magazine for executives and have earned a large part of my life exclusively with writing and advertising texts.


We never know our full potential

We don’t know what we will be capable of, and others certainly don’t either. Are you aware that you might be able to do many things that you haven’t even tried yet? That at no point in our lives do we know what else we can learn? I firmly believe that we are never at the end of the road. Do you know who hinders you the most from tapping into your strengths or making them soar? You yourself. It was my own problem that I believed the German teacher.

We all have so much more to discover about ourselves, and I really look forward to everything that lies ahead for me. I hope you also have this joy. Find out what you’re good at, use your strengths, know your weaknesses, and above all, unfold the potential that is still hidden piece by piece. I’m sure you will experience success and deep fulfillment at the same time, both professionally and personally.

Tip: If you want to secure the whole lecture by Debora Karsch and other lectures on the topic of leadership and unfolding potential, you can get the VIP package of the persolog Leadership Conference 2023 here:

» Secure VIP package retrospectively

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