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4 Lessons That Are Hidden In Your Weaknesses

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focus on your strengths

We all have weaknesses. That isn’t really a problem, though. After all, if everyone has weaknesses, then the most successful people around have some, too. They succeeded despite them – or in some cases, because of them.

The truth is, if the world’s most successful people got where they are today without their weaknesses barring the way, your weaknesses needn’t bar your way to success, either. The only problem comes if you use your weaknesses to convince yourself that you can’t possibly succeed. But if you use your weaknesses wisely, you can find them to be a source of success.

Here are 4 things to remember about your weaknesses:

1. Your weakness may be someone else’s problem rather than yours

Not everything that someone else tells you is a weakness. Often we are quick to believe what others tell us. We feel judged and convicted by the court of others’ opinions. Yet the problem isn’t necessarily us. The other person may simply be wrong.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job in television because the boss thought she was “too emotional” and “not right for television.” Rather than believe the boss’ verdict on her and try to tone down her trademark enthusiasm, she built on it. Eventually, she found someone who would let her use it. The result? She rode her enthusiastic nature into a billion-dollar career.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epicetus

2. Your weakness may only be in your own mind

We can build negatives up in our minds to the point where we feel they are insurmountable, when they actually aren’t. For example, a person may feel that the lack of a college degree eliminates them from any chance of success when in reality, it is highly possible to succeed without a college degree.

Sometimes all we need to do is change the way we look at our weakness. Actor, Bruce Willis, suffered a severe stutter for the first twenty years of his life. Rather than letting it isolate him from others, he used it as a way to develop a sense of humor about himself, put others at ease and make them laugh. Those qualities are a large part of what later made him an Emmy-winning actor and popular action movie star.

 

3. Your weakness may have a strength embedded in it

Go to any article on the topic of job interviews and you’re likely to find an article on the most dreaded question asked by employers: “What is your greatest weakness?” There’s something important to be learned from the advice given in those articles. Focus on the strength that accompanies your weakness.

For example, “I don’t do well with details,” is just a negative way of saying, “I’m good at focusing on the big picture or I’m too much of a perfectionist,” is a negative way of saying, “I’m very thorough and conscientious.”

Albert Einstein was considered slow and uninterested in learning as a child, always lost in abstract thoughts that were far removed from what his teachers were trying to teach him. But that penchant for abstract thinking ultimately led him to complex theories about time, space and matter that revealed his true genius.

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” – Napoleon Hill

4. Your weaknesses can be defeated by effort

Sometimes it’s our efforts to overcome our greatest weaknesses, the tragedies that we face, that become the source of our greatest successes. Billionaire Richard Branson has made his fortune from being at the forefront of technological advancements. Yet no one who knew him in his childhood would ever have anticipated his success.

Branson is dyslexic. He struggled in school because little was known about dyslexia at the time. He was categorized as lazy, disruptive and uninterested in learning.

So, instead of focusing on reading about the technologies that fascinated him, he focused on surrounding himself with people who were experts in those technologies. He used his people skills to meld those experts into teams that could produce new approaches to old problems. Then he marketed the resulting products and services skillfully to build eight separate billion-dollar businesses.

Rather than focusing on the seemingly negative aspects of weaknesses, view them as they truly are, parts of what make you unique. Build on them to bring out the positives in them. Reassess them to see how you can use them in a positive manner.

Do you focus on finding the positives in your weaknesses or do you not focus on weaknesses all together? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Janet Anthony is a blogger from Kansas city and content writer at EssayKittens.com who has been writing professionally for five years now. She mostly writes about inspiration, blogging, motivation, and self-development. Her motto is “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows”. You can connect with Janet through her Twitter or Facebook.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Victoria

    Dec 22, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Janet, Wonderful article and you’re a very talented and insightful person. #3 resonated with me and I’m going to put this technique into very good use. Starting tomorrow ?
    Thank you very much and Merry Christmas?

  2. AUBRIE RICKETTS

    Jul 25, 2016 at 3:43 am

    Janet, what a great article. I think that embracing weakness is one of our biggest challenges. Great job assessing the four biggest weakness we need to address. Personally I think the biggest weakness is the one we have set in our own mind as you point out in #2. I often point out my weaknesses preventing someone else to do it for me. Do you think this contributes to the weakness or helps reveal it?
    Aubrie

  3. Toño

    Jul 25, 2016 at 2:40 am

    Janet, I enjoyed your article and actually got some deep thinking on definition my own weaknesses. I like your #1 point and now can see you’re very much right about. If one person has an idea about your abilities it means only that. It’s their perception and not necessarily the world truth. Love it!

    Thank you for great read, very well done, would like to read more in the future 🙂 Much love and appreciation~

  4. Chris

    Jul 23, 2016 at 5:38 am

    The stand out point for me here is that effort can overcome any weakness. I love the example’s of successful people that you use, I’d have to say my quote for effort over weakness would be Jack Nicklaus the golfer “The more I practice, the luckier I get”

    We do take what say people about is seriously and we shouldn’t. Your article shows just a handful of people that didn’t listen to other people or let their weaknesses get in the way, and we’re glad that they didn’t. The scary and almost sad thing about this is: if we think about how many people have listened to those negative people and walked away from their dreams, imagine how many more awesome people we would have in the world, it could be such a different place.

    Great article, thank you

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What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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