In today’s competitive world, we often feel like we have to be vocal about our strengths, and hide our weaknesses. However, your true power lies in not only how you act on your strengths, but also how you interpret and take action on your weaknesses. By being mindful of these areas, you can address them strategically and better position yourself for success.
Be aware of (but not defined by) your weaknesses
Your weaknesses are not the sum of who you are. Everyone has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of what you perceive to be your primary strengths, as well as your primary weaknesses. In order to avoid being overwhelmed, include no more than five weaknesses. If you find you are having a hard time listing your strengths, consider taking a strengths assessment, such as the VIA. The 24 Character Strengths assessed by the free VIA survey can be found in the infographic below.
Next, speak with someone you trust, and whose opinion you respect. What do they perceive to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? You might be surprised by what they say. Whether you are underestimating your strengths or overestimating your weaknesses, a (supportive) outsider perspective can be helpful.
Look at your weaknesses as opportunities for development
Your primary weaknesses are those for which you may want to seek additional resources and ongoing support. Are there opportunities for training at your job or through a local university that could help you learn how to improve in this area? Also, look for resources at bookstores and local libraries. Consider working with a mentor or coach who can help you outline a plan. Finally, look for opportunities to practice and develop these skills. You might express interest in a new project, or find a safe setting outside of work, such as a small networking or accountability group. For example, Toastmasters is a wonderful resource for individuals looking to improve their communication skills and become more comfortable with public speaking.
Don’t address everything at once
If you try to address all of your weaknesses at the same time, it is possible that you will soon become overwhelmed or discouraged. It is difficult to introduce (and maintain) drastic change. Consider which weaknesses you would most like to work on (no more than two or three), and those to which your current environment is most conducive. Be honest with yourself about whether or not it is truly an area you want to work on. Finally, increase your confidence by reminding yourself of how you developed each of your strengths. While some may have come to you naturally, it is quite possible that others required work, and were once your primary weaknesses.
You don’t have to be the expert at everything
Think about how you can best display your strengths while developing new skills. Rather than trying to excel at everything, you may want to collaborate with someone who is strong in an area that is not one of your key strengths. While working with them, you may be exposed to tips and approaches that help you gain experience (and confidence) in that area. If you are looking for work, consider a career where you are able to leverage your strengths, and develop skills in areas of interest to you.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Dr. Portia Jackson is a speaker and coach, who helps professionals align their path with their passion and avoid burnout. You can find more helpful tips on her blog, Retire the Overachiever. She offers coaching and consulting services to individuals and organizations.