Making Your Weaknesses Relevant
Posted by Todd Smith
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One on the most misunderstood statements today is this: “Focus on your strengths and make your weaknesses irrelevant.” Every time I hear or read it, I cringe and think, “What if your weaknesses are relevant?”
Excuses for Weaknesses
Have you ever heard people make excuses for poor performance? Then they followed it by an explanation like this: “That’s just the way I am; it’s part of my DNA.” Or, “That is one of my weak points.” Or, “I’m just not good at that.” Then they blow it off like it’s acceptable.
How much respect would you have for someone who is always late and says, “I’m sorry, but it’s awfully hard for me to be on time.”
How successful would a tennis player be who is exceptional at every part of his game, but can’t serve?
How far within your organization would a person get who does his or her job well, but can’t communicate effectively with co-workers?
Or, think about the young father who is a dedicated dad but has a real problem with his temper. How do you think his relationship would be with his wife and children if he thought, “I’m so good at everything else, I‘m just not going to worry about my temper? They will have to accept me the way I am”?
For most of us, our weaknesses are relevant and the worst thing we can do is to ignore them or discount their importance.
Deal With Your Weakness
Author Nathaniel S. Summers said, “The strength of a person is often weighed by how they deal with their weaknesses.”
When I started my entrepreneurial career 31 years ago, my English was awful. (It had been my worst subject in school.) It quickly became clear to me that if I wanted to be successful, I would have to focus on my written communications and make them a strength. Today, I proof all my emails and consider the little things I can do to improve my messages, even if they’re casual emails going to my family and friends.
I am an extreme introvert but, because I consciously work on it, no one would ever know if I did not tell them. I realized if I were going to be successful, I would have to push myself outside my comfort zone and work on my people skills and make them a strength.
How do you feel about your weaknesses? Are you intentional about working on them or have you fallen into the trap of thinking they don’t matter? Do you think or say, “That’s just the way I am. I can’t help it. Don’t expect me to change”?
If your co-workers sat in a conference room and made a list of your greatest weaknesses, what would be on the list? As you consider the things they would discuss, how many of those things could you improve tomorrow, if you were intentional?
If your spouse or significant other were to make a list of the things you do that bug him or her, what would be put on the list? As you think of the most likely answers, how hard would it be to stop doing those things, if you really tried?
Rewards for Turning Weaknesses into Strengths
What many people don’t realize is that their weaknesses are holding them back from enjoying more meaningful relationships, advancing their careers, improving their self-images and confidence, and living happier lives.
I am a firm believer that when you do the little things that you know you should do, without excuses, you feel better about yourself and the person you are becoming. When you blow them off or discount them, your subconscious knows the truth. When you repeatedly fail to do the things you know you should do, it’s impossible to feel good about yourself.
The fact is that 95% of the weaknesses I see holding people back are things they could change today, by simply being intentional.
My Three Challenges For You
1. Change Your Attitude.
Never again allow yourself to think or believe that weaknesses are irrelevant. You can change weaknesses into strengths.
Michael Jordan said, “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”
2. Acknowledge your weaknesses.
The first step towards improving your weaknesses is to openly acknowledge them.
3. Be Intentional.
Choose one weakness and start today to work on it at home, at work, and in your social circles.
For most people, it’s not the lack of focus on their strengths that holds them back; it’s the lack of focus on their weaknesses!
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