“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” — Marilyn vos Savant
Everyone has weaknesses, and we tend to try to work on eliminating them - on changing ourselves to become better. But change is difficult- very difficult. What if instead of trying to eliminate our weaknesses, we embraced them for what they were?
Strengths and weaknesses are part of being self-aware. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can create a development strategy that focuses on your specific development needs.
Every Weakness has a Corresponding Strength
In How to Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths, by David Kerpen, he discusses how to view your weaknesses as strengths. I found the activity very insightful, so I thought I would share it with you as well:
Think about your weaknesses at school, work, and even life in general. What are some things that you absolutely cannot stand about yourself? Here is a list of some weaknesses, choose the three that most relate to you.
After you choose your three weaknesses, don’t ponder them for too long. Next, look at the list below, and find the same three weaknesses you choose, and look to the right at the traits of your three biggest weaknesses:
- Unrealistic = Visionary
- Arrogant = Self-Confident
- Irresponsible = Adventurous
- Inflexible = Purposeful
- Childish = Playful
- Obnoxious = Enthusiastic
- Disorganized = Creative
- Inconsistent = Flexible
- Independent = Resourceful
- Impatient = Passionate
- Stubborn = Persistent, Determined
- Indecisive = Fair-minded
- Intimidating = Assertive
- Talkative = Expressive
The three traits to the right of your weaknesses are all strengths. Hidden within every weakness are your strengths, sometimes you have to look at them from a new perspective. The best leaders always find methods to turn their weaknesses into their greatest strengths.
The idea here is simple: Instead of trying to change your weaknesses, accept them. Don't try to fix them - it's too difficult. Be sure to leverage your associated strengths. You can look to colleagues, direct reports, and even supervisors to fill in the gaps where you are weakest. Don't be afraid to ask people for help- they can add value where you are weaker. After all, your weaknesses got you to this point in your life, and that’s a sign that maybe it’s not your weakness after all - will get you far in your career, and in life.