Leveraging Your Weaknesses

“Bad companies are destroyed by the crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them”  – Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel

I know the commonly accepted thinking is that to be more successful you need to address and leverage your strengths, not your weaknesses. I have even written an article on this previously. But I would like to share with you a complementary but slightly different perspective.

The thinking is that if your focus on improving your strengths you can raise the level of your performance to a higher level; whereas if you look to improve your weakness you are likely only to raise it to an acceptable level of performance, not a higher level of performance. The reason for this is that this particular area, your weakness, is not particularly well aligned with your capabilities (if it was it would be a strength) and so it is harder for you to maintain an improved level of performance, and you are likely to slip back to a lower level. With strengths, because your capabilities are aligned with them, you are able to sustain this improvement in performance.

The thinking here is not to ignore your weaknesses, but by being aware of what they are (and being honest with yourself about them), you can work with others whose strengths complement and compensate for your weaknesses (and similarly you do the same for them).

However, great individuals, like great companies, can find a way to transform weakness into a strength. So how do they do this?

“Within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition…”

Great people and great leaders see the obstacles that they face – whether they are external or internal to them – for what they are, and have the ingenuity and will to tackle them effectively. Your obstacles may be mental, physical, emotional or perceived – but you can tackle these weaknesses and make them strengths.  You do this by taking the perspective of “I can make this good” – whatever the obstacle may be. This is not being naively optimistic, but rather seeing the obstacle as a new opportunity to progress or go in a better direction.

3 Steps in Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming obstacle is a discipline and a process. The process is simple, but it is not easy, and it consists of three steps:

1. Perception – how do you look at your specific problems or obstacles? What is your attitude or approach?  How you perceive, frame and approach an obstacle will determine how likely you are to overcome it.

2. Action – how dedicated are you to taking action? (because with no action there is no change or progress). And what creativity can you bring along in addressing the obstacle that will turn them into opportunities?

3. Will – do you have the on-going inner strength and desire to continue with this process, even if you experience adverse conditions or poor results?

Use this process to help you embrace your obstacles and weaknesses, and in doing so you can turn them into strengths. And when you have strengths then you can leverage them to great effect.

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