If you and I were interviewing right now and you asked me what my weaknesses were I would be able to respond readily with three things: finishing strong, customer interaction, and self doubt. It is vital to know these things about yourself as I believe your career will be extremely limited if you are not aware of what your weaknesses are. Once you realized what they are, take comfort in this, you are not alone. In your journey to overcoming weakness, look to see how others can benefit from this focus.
Anyone can start something, but few finish as strongly as they start. Think about new years resolutions and how many of them fall to the wayside by the middle or end of January. Recently we launched a new initiative in our business, one that took two years to complete. It started with a great momentum, but got bogged down in difficulties and personalities. Instead of just inwardly reflecting on how to shift my attitude and finish strong, I thought about how we all need to shift our attitudes and finish strong. Half way through the project, we had a “Project Reboot” event. We assembled the whole team, reminded ourselves why we are doing this, and made a public declaration and commitment to finish strong. Everyone on the team received a Finish Strong bracelet and donned them on in a ceremonious fashion vowing to NEVER take them off until the project was completed. This finish strong focus enabled us to encourage each other through the remainder of the project. A personal weakness turned into a team strength.
For the most part I am an extrovert, but there are times when the hidden introvert in me seems to take over. Do I spend too much time in my office and not enough time interacting with our customers? After looking at the evidence I had to answer honestly. Spending time with customers is not only good for me, it is good for others as well. The leadership team put together a customer rounding schedule. This assures that every major stakeholder is visited by a member of our leadership team, including myself, at least once per month. Evidence indicates that conducting face to face customer satisfaction checks, reviewing open issues, talking about responsiveness, and discussing key initiatives that are important to them builds trust and loyalty. Another personal weakness turned into a team strength that has helped foster great relationships in the organization.
Self doubt has plagued me since I was very young. Rooted in fear, my security and identity were wrapped up in what others thought of me. While I no longer carry this fear and try to wrap my identity and security in healthy viewpoints, old thought patterns can emerge. Today I believe that fundamentally we were all created for good and are capable of accomplishing great things. Lies get in the way of that belief. Early on in my life, influential people tried to squash my destiny by telling me that I would not amount to much. If I had experienced these lies, perhaps others have as well. It turns out that in fact at some point in their life, almost all have experienced this. One way to combat this is to find out what your strengths are and focus and capitalize on them. That is what I try to do today and I surround myself with others who do the same. After several team discussion, we agreed to purchase everyone a strengthsfinder book in an effort to get our whole team to focus on the fundamental good in each of us and work to better leverage our gifts as individuals. My past struggle with self doubt has launched a whole movement and allowed some team members to embrace strengths that were covered up by a multitude of lies.
Sometimes leaders do not share or embrace their weaknesses because well, they might appear weak. The truth is, if you can embrace your weaknesses with a little humility and creativity, you just might be able to turn them into organizational strengths. If we were interviewing right now, would you be able to articulate your weaknesses and what you do to overcome them? It might be a worthwhile exercise to write down a few of them and what you do to overcome. Don’t spend too much time on it though, you can start believing the lies that tell you that unless you overcome these weaknesses, you will never succeed. Your strengths if leveraged, hold far more power than your weaknesses.