by Wayne Ottum
“At times, our strengths propel us so far forward we can no longer endure our weaknesses and perish from them.”
How do you simultaneously solve your weaknesses through a focus on your strengths? It starts by understanding the three types of weaknesses.
Three Types of Weaknesses
Weaknesses can be broken down into three categories, as shown in the following diagram:
Perceived Weaknesses: Weaknesses that others, and often we ourselves, perceive in us. It looks something like this… An individual has the ability to command and control any situation. They can step in, take charge, and get results. This is a great and highly valued strength. Unfortunately, many people perceive someone like this as pushy, bossy, or controlling. Thus, they “perceive” this person’s strength as a weakness. This “perceived weakness” is actually that person’s strength, taken to extreme, without consideration for the potential negative consequences of this natural way of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Another person’s strength is empathy and relating well with others. They can truly consider everyone’s opinions and will work to ensure everyone’s opinion is voiced and heard. This is also a great strength that can be highly valuable. This person’s “perceived weakness,” however, may be that others view them as not having a mind of their own, or incapable of independent thought or action.
The net result for both of these individuals may be that after a lifetime of negative feedback they end up devaluing or even rejecting their powerful, unique strength, believing it to be a weakness instead.
In our work with clients, these “perceived weaknesses” generally constitute about 60-75% of the weaknesses they self-identify. These “perceived weaknesses” can be almost completely eliminated by first identifying the potential negative perceptions and consequences of your strengths and then by working to minimize the impacts by consciously stopping, modifying or dialing-back the “extreme” behavior to eliminate the negative consequences. When you learn to do that, you begin to embrace your strength as a powerful tool, which then allows you to develop it into mastery.
True Inabilities: These are things we’re simply not very good at doing. They are on the opposite end of the spectrum from our strengths. They are things we may work hard at to become adequate, but will probably never master, no matter how hard we try. It looks something like this…
All your life you wanted to be good with numbers. You envied those with the ability to calculate, analyze and crunch. But every time you try, your eyes glaze over and you can’t seem to make that spreadsheet add up. But you continue to try because you are a business owner and you are supposed to know this stuff, right?
Our clients say that about 25-30% of their self-identified weaknesses are actually true inabilities. You can quickly identify true inabilities. They are the things you have always struggled with no matter how hard you tried to master them. These things can be “managed” simply by letting them go or delegating them to those who have this innate ability. There is extraordinary power that comes from simply letting your true inabilities go and delegating them to someone uniquely gifted at accomplishing those tasks. Try it! We guarantee you will like it!
True weaknesses: The true and only relevant weaknesses we see in people are ones of thought, attitude and belief, not aptitude. Thought, attitude and belief are weaknesses of choice. Some people choose a negative approach to life rather than a positive one. They choose to put themselves down rather than build themselves up. They choose not to believe in themselves and choose to believe something that impedes their life instead.
Fill in the blank… I am too ________, They are too ________, I can’t do ________. Sound or feel familiar? We all have these negative thoughts from time to time.
For most of our clients, this equates to only 5-10% of their identified weaknesses, but what’s amazing is that this small percentage ends up being the most limiting! The wonderful thing about true weaknesses, however, is that they are the most easily solved. Think about it… Since you are 100% in control of your thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, you can change them, right now! Once identified, you need only define the “counter-positive” thought, attitude or belief to replace it, write your positive affirmation, and read them daily until they become your new way of thinking, being, and acting.
The Bottom Line on Strengths vs. Weaknesses
The bottom line about strengths and weaknesses is this: A focus on weaknesses is a focus on the negative that drains your energy and diminishes you in the eyes of yourself, those around you, and the universe. On the contrary, a positive focus on your strengths is empowering, uplifting, and compels you forward toward the business of your dreams and all that you desire! Perceived weaknesses can be managed and, ultimately nearly eliminated by a focus on your strengths. True inabilities can be accepted and let go, or managed by others, eliminating them from consideration. True weaknesses, that 5%-10% that are the real limiting factors in your life and your business, those negative thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, are 100% controlled by you and can be easily turned into their “counter-positive,” simply by the desire to do so and then choosing to take positive action.
The take away here is that only a positive focus on your strengths is an endeavor worthy of your time, effort, and energy. Such a focus simultaneously solves your weaknesses and anything else is simply a waste of your unique gifts.
About the Author
Wayne Ottum is an expert in helping business owners achieve a clarity of direction, focus and authenticity that naturally drives their business to ever greater levels of success. He is the President and Founder of Ottum Enterprises, LLC (ottum2.wpengine.com) and creator of the Lead from Strength™ methodology of business planning, leadership and management. Built on over 30 years of experience in the fields of business, education and consulting, Wayne guides you to Lead from Strength™. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneOttum or @OttumEnterprise and find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/wayne-ottum/0/31/958/.
If you would like more information on our Lead from Strength™ methodology and how we can help you take your business to the next level, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find more information about what it means to Lead from Strength™, visit us at www.leadfromstrength.com.