Successful people change in ways that allow them to continue to take advantage of their strengths while compensating for their weaknesses and unsuccessful people don't....beneficial change begins when you can acknowledge and even embrace your weaknesses.
Ray Dalio in Principles
I don't know anyone who does not embrace their strengths. All of us are good at some things and when we are operating in that sweet spot it is fulfilling and relatively easy. In fact, it is so easy "in the sweet spot" to forget that all strengths have a weak side and that if we don't understand, embrace and acknowledge our weak side, it can hijack our strengths!
So what are the benefits of acknowledging and embracing your weaknesses?
Understanding ourselves is the single most important key to long term success. To often we assume that we know ourselves when in fact we know the up sides of who we are but intentionally or unintentionally ignore the down sides. This leads to a highly inaccurate understanding of who we really are which will get us into trouble at some point.
I may be highly strategic and aggressive in my leadership role but if I don't also understand that I am also impatient with others and prone not to listen carefully there is likely to be a price to be paid. A thorough understanding of myself gives me the information I need to play to my strengths and be aware of my weaknesses which is the first step toward managing them. Remember that we often tend to exaggerate our strengths in our thinking and minimize our weaknesses.
Too often there can be a narcissistic tendency among those with strong gifts because they have achieved an element of success and start to believe their own press. In the process they devalue others who don't have the gifts they have. This is the opposite of what happens when we acknowledge and embrace our weaknesses.
In embracing our weaknesses we understand that we need others around us whose strengths are the complement and solution to our weaknesses. And our strengths to their weaknesses. This is the foundation of a healthy team and a deeper appreciation for others. I am great at the big picture and overall strategy but not always at the details. Where would I be without those who are brilliant with the details!
The most successful people are not those who can do everything. They are those who can build a great team around needed skills that compensates for the weaknesses inherent in us all.
Managing our weaknesses
There is no possibility of dealing with our weaknesses unless we first acknowledge and embrace them. I don't believe that we can very often turn a weakness into a strength. Our strengths can be honed and developed because the hard wiring for that strength is part of who we are. However, we often have a need to grow in our areas of weakness so they don't hurt us and more often we must manage those weaknesses so that they don't hurt us or others. This is not possible unless we have an accurate picture of both our strengths and weaknesses. Together they describe who we are and who else we need around us.
Living in personal freedom
A trap that many of us fall into is that of the expectations of others and a personal need to prove that we are highly competent, successful people. This is why we often tout our strengths and ignore our weaknesses. Who wants to advertise their weaknesses?
Except, while we often ignore our down side, those around us already knows what they are. we fool ourselves perhaps but not others. We can live in denial while those around us know the emperor has no clothes! And usually that "pretending" on our part takes a toll. Why not embrace what others already know: Our areas of strength and our areas of weakness. There is freedom in honesty and freedom in not having to prove ourselves in areas where we cannot. And don't need to.
The journey to personal maturity is equally a journey of embracing and growing our strengths and of embracing and managing our weaknesses. The first without the second will not end well.
TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."