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What To Do With Weaknesses

I like my strengths a lot more than my weaknesses. Anyone else?

Years ago I worked really hard on some of my weaknesses. I had picked up somewhere that the key to my growth as a leader (and as a human being) was to turn my weaknesses into strengths. I committed myself to becoming excellent at organization, prioritization, and daily disciplines that never came naturally to me. And I got some results.

But then I ran into some conflicting advice. Bolstered by the research of Gallup and the massively successful Strengthsfinder tools I learned to focus on the things I’m uncommonly good at. It turns out that’s a lot more fun, and growth comes more easily, than grinding away at my weaknesses.

So many high profile leaders, authors, speakers, and influencers promote this strengths emphasis that it is pretty much unavoidable now, and that’s mostly a good thing. But we still have weaknesses, and they drag us down.

I’m working on some new workshops (and probably a new book follow up to The REACTION Dashboard) on what it means to be a Healthy Leader and how to be one. One aspect is considering how we handle weaknesses.

I encourage people to satisfy them.

It’s an unusual word choice, and a very intentional one.

Turning weaknesses into strengths takes a huge effort and rarely pays off. Ignoring weaknesses to prioritize strengths leaves dangerous vulnerabilities. So instead let’s figure out what level of development we need to achieve so that our weaknesses don’t undermine the things our strengths (along with hard work, team, and luck) otherwise make possible. 

Satisfy the needs of your weaknesses so you can make the best use of your strengths.

For me that means building habits to stay on top of administrative tasks and using my calendar and meeting systems to provide enough structure to not let necessary things slip. Then I have the freedom to focus the rest of my time and energy on the development and delivery of tools that can help charity leaders thrive. I’ll never be a master of efficiency but I can improve it enough that it doesn’t hold back the things at which I can excel.

All of this depends on having the self awareness to accurately recognize my weaknesses and strengths, and the freedom to prioritize things I can control. Changing circumstances will elevate different needs and provide different possible strategies to deal with them.

So, instead of striving to eliminate weaknesses or foolishly denying their impact, we can examine them with practical wisdom and satisfy them. Then we can confidently invest as much of ourselves as possible in the strengths that enable our greatest impact.

(Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels)

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