We all have weaknesses. That isn’t really a problem, though. After all, if everyone has weaknesses, then the most successful people around have some, too. They succeeded despite them – or in some cases, because of them.
The truth is, if the world’s most successful people got where they are today without their weaknesses barring the way, your weaknesses needn’t bar your way to success, either. The only problem comes if you use your weaknesses to convince yourself that you can’t possibly succeed. But if you use your weaknesses wisely, you can find them to be a source of success.
Here are 4 things to remember about your weaknesses:
1. Your weakness may be someone else’s problem rather than yours
Not everything that someone else tells you is a weakness. Often we are quick to believe what others tell us. We feel judged and convicted by the court of others’ opinions. Yet the problem isn’t necessarily us. The other person may simply be wrong.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job in television because the boss thought she was “too emotional” and “not right for television.” Rather than believe the boss’ verdict on her and try to tone down her trademark enthusiasm, she built on it. Eventually, she found someone who would let her use it. The result? She rode her enthusiastic nature into a billion-dollar career.
“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epicetus
2. Your weakness may only be in your own mind
We can build negatives up in our minds to the point where we feel they are insurmountable, when they actually aren’t. For example, a person may feel that the lack of a college degree eliminates them from any chance of success when in reality, it is highly possible to succeed without a college degree.
Sometimes all we need to do is change the way we look at our weakness. Actor, Bruce Willis, suffered a severe stutter for the first twenty years of his life. Rather than letting it isolate him from others, he used it as a way to develop a sense of humor about himself, put others at ease and make them laugh. Those qualities are a large part of what later made him an Emmy-winning actor and popular action movie star.
3. Your weakness may have a strength embedded in it
Go to any article on the topic of job interviews and you’re likely to find an article on the most dreaded question asked by employers: “What is your greatest weakness?” There’s something important to be learned from the advice given in those articles. Focus on the strength that accompanies your weakness.
For example, “I don’t do well with details,” is just a negative way of saying, “I’m good at focusing on the big picture or I’m too much of a perfectionist,” is a negative way of saying, “I’m very thorough and conscientious.”
Albert Einstein was considered slow and uninterested in learning as a child, always lost in abstract thoughts that were far removed from what his teachers were trying to teach him. But that penchant for abstract thinking ultimately led him to complex theories about time, space and matter that revealed his true genius.
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill
4. Your weaknesses can be defeated by effort
Sometimes it’s our efforts to overcome our greatest weaknesses, the tragedies that we face, that become the source of our greatest successes. Billionaire Richard Branson has made his fortune from being at the forefront of technological advancements. Yet no one who knew him in his childhood would ever have anticipated his success.
Branson is dyslexic. He struggled in school because little was known about dyslexia at the time. He was categorized as lazy, disruptive and uninterested in learning.
So, instead of focusing on reading about the technologies that fascinated him, he focused on surrounding himself with people who were experts in those technologies. He used his people skills to meld those experts into teams that could produce new approaches to old problems. Then he marketed the resulting products and services skillfully to build eight separate billion-dollar businesses.
Rather than focusing on the seemingly negative aspects of weaknesses, view them as they truly are, parts of what make you unique. Build on them to bring out the positives in them. Reassess them to see how you can use them in a positive manner.