As we lead our teams, grow our businesses, and find more ways to add value to the lives of others, we depend upon the traits we’ve developed and cultivated throughout the years to move us forward.
Some of these traits and characteristics we have developed consciously and others…not so much. Many of these are positive, serve us well and would be considered strengths. Others are negative and counterproductive to our overall effectiveness.
Are we stuck with the negative ones? Should we even bother worrying about them?
Much of today’s popular teaching tells us to simply ignore our weaknesses and focus only on our strengths.
While I understand the intent, I believe that as a general, all-inclusive rule it is incorrect.
There is certainly much validity in focusing on our strengths. They are basically the value we bring to both our personal and business relationships. Focus on them, indeed. However, ignoring the weaknesses can be downright dangerous in terms of our potential success!
I believe our weaknesses — both personal and business — can be grouped into three main categories:
- Those that truly do not matter. For example, I’m not good at running long distances. Since I have no plans to run a marathon, I ignore that one.
- Those that matter and need to be mitigated. I have a weakness for junk food and have to be very aware; constantly monitoring myself.
- Those that matter and need to be turned into a strength. I used to be a gossip. It was hugely destructive. That weakness I worked on until I had not only overcome it, but become well-known for very rarely saying anything negative about anyone.
Had I not overcome that last one and turned a weakness into a strength, I can guarantee you my level of influence and success in many areas of my life would be much less than it is now.
Benjamin Franklin understood this concept and devised his own Character Improvement program. The difference that made in his life is self-evident.
So, yes, by all means, focus on your strengths. That’s where you will achieve the most.
But, don’t ignore your weaknesses. At least the ones that matter.
Action Step: Focus on just one negative character trait that you’d like to improve. It might be wasteful spending, overcoming anger, speaking ill of others. Work on that one thing and take pleasure in every small success until you’ve turned it from a weakness into a strength.