Stop Trying to Fix Your Weaknesses (30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #2)
We’re not perfect. It is a fact of life that each and every one of us possess both strengths and weaknesses. Imagine a world where everybody was good at everything and we did it perfectly. That’s a nice thought, but that world would be pretty boring. It is both our strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are, that assist us in creating teams, in developing business models, and in reaching our goals in life.
So much of psychology and self-help materials focus on fixing what is wrong in our lives. The media doesn’t help either with its continuous cycle of how to fix what’s wrong with us or what is perceived to be wrong with us. While we should work at getting better at what we’re not so good at, we should not allow all our time and energy to be spent in that position. When it comes to fixing weaknesses versus improving strengths, the latter should take the top spot.
It should be noted that improving our strengths is not to be done to the neglect of also working on our weaknesses. A strong work ethic and a strong drinking habit, for example, is counterproductive. Either the drinking habit must be dropped, or at least limited, or the work ethic will begin to lose its effectiveness.
It takes more time and energy, however, to fix a weakness than it does to improve on a strength. That is why a strategy of incorporating our weaknesses into our strengths is a good plan to follow. When we acknowledge that the weakness exists, we can then build on a strength to make up for the weakness. Research proves that we continue to learn throughout the course of our lives, so it is possible to turn weaknesses into strengths. It is also possible to be realistic and focus on being the best in your area of expertise or training.
Without our weaknesses, we fail to be human. This is why an attempt to fix our weaknesses all of the time is an exercise in futility. Sarah Vowell said, “We are flawed creatures, all of us. Some of us think that means we should fix our flaws. But get rid of my flaws and there would be no one left.”
Behavioral statistician, Joseph Folkman, in his research, found that while most people are focused on fixing what is wrong, 70-80% of company leaders and employees would benefit more by improving what they are doing right. While teaching that great leaders are not perfect, Folkman, and his fellow researcher, Jack Zenger, discovered that what made leaders great was not the absence of weaknesses, but the presence of strengths. Focusing on our strengths, they say, reinforces the idea that our strengths are what help us achieve success.
Weaknesses are not flaws in character. Weaknesses are the opposite side of strengths. What is not a weakness is more likely a strength and vice-versa. Figure out how you can improve on your strengths and in light of that, your weaknesses will prove to be smaller. When working with people, in teams or in groups, it is important for everyone to be honest about what they can and can’t do. When this is done, everyone will know what to expect and where gaps need to be filled in.
Focusing solely on strengths is not an excuse for letting weaknesses go all of the time. Sometimes life demands that we step up our game in areas where we are not particularly good. When this is called for, perfection should not be the goal, but giving our very best. Strive to be competent in areas in which you are weak. (There is one exception to the rule of building on strengths instead of fixing weaknesses and that is when it comes to fatal flaws. Fatal flaws, life-threatening or career threatening incompetencies, should never be neglected. Fatal flaws should be focused on and fixed first to avoid ruin to your career or life.)
Gretchen Rubin said, “Flawed can be more perfect than perfection.” A job done with 85% satisfaction is better than a job not done well at all. A runner at third base is in a far better position for success than one who is focused on not being able to hit a home run.
Weaknesses are to be appreciated and embraced, but not always fixed to perfection. A focus on our weaknesses will keep us going round and round, failing and failing. The energy and time we have, which is limited, would be well used to build on our strengths, be the best at being the best, and use our talents, knowledge, and skills to make a difference in the world.