“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” ― Michael Jordan
It hard to know what to do about a weakness. When ignored it just gets on with its business of spoiling things for us. And when we pay attention to it we become frustrated and lose heart.
So we begin to fear that it will undermine us. Stop us from achieving our goals. Ruin our career and relationships.
These fears cause us to deny it. Hide it from others. Hope that it will stay hidden. And not bring us crashing down to earth.
The good news is that Buckingham (2007) tells us what we need to do to manage our weakness. And this checklist presents his ideas as a set of action steps. Puts them in a learning sequence. That you can use to learn how to manage your weakness.
Identify your key personal weaknesses
☐ Accept your personal weaknesses. Like the rest of us you have lots of them. Happily only some of them are important. Most of them are not. But that doesn’t stop us from worrying about them.
☐ The weaknesses to be concerned about are are those that stop you from using your strengths. To find them you need to identify your strengths first. To do this log on to www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edy/questionnaires.aspx. Click on the authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire. Click on register. Complete the questionnaire. It takes about twenty-five minutes.
☐ Or buy Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness” and complete the questionnaire on page 114. You can get this book at http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Happiness-Pstchology-Potential-Fulfillment/dp/0743222989.
☐ Identify your five highest scoring strengths from your answers to this questionnaire. Which compares your answers to those of the thousands of other people who have taken the test. And puts them in rank order from one to twenty-four. Your highest scoring strengths are your greatest strengths.
☐ Identify a weakness that interferes with your use of a strength. Think of a strength. And of a weakness that stops you from using it to the full extent.
☐ These are the only weaknesses you have to worry about. You have a few of them. And identifying them enables you to narrow down the field. So rather than have to work on all of your weaknesses. You just have to work on these few.
Example of a weakness that undermines a strength
Spelling is a key personal weakness of mine. It interfered with my ability to write. Which is one of my strengths. So I worked hard on it. The problem was that it limited my writing vocabulary to words I could spell. My spelling is now adequate but it will never be great. But I had done enough to increase my written vocabulary when Spellcheck arrived and made it even easier.
Observe how each key weakness works against you
☐ Observe how your weakness stops you using your strength. Keep a record of when and where it does this. Analyse this data to find how the weakness works.
☐ Do this for all of your key weaknesses. See if they work with other weaknesses. And if so how they work together.
☐ Weaknesses tend to work in clusters. So very likely you have two or three weaknesses that work together. This gives them more leverage and makes them difficult to deal with.
Example of weaknesses working together
When I began to write these blogs I underestimated the amount of time that each one needed. I just tried to fit them into my existing time commitments. My scheduling was a weakness. I found it hard to find the time that the research, learning and writing required. My tendency to procrastinate caused me to miss deadlines. And I ended up doing things in a panic at the last-minute. My negative thoughts had me thinking it was a waste of time because it was way beyond me. I nearly abandoned the project several times.
Yet I knew that research, learning and writing were strengths. And things changed when I saw that three weaknesses were working against me. Failing to schedule, putting things off and negative thinking. They were combining to undermine my best efforts. Once I was aware of this I was able to tackle them. And solve the problem.
How to deal with a key weakness
☐ Pick the least troublesome of your weaknesses. Work on it to develop your skill at dealing with weaknesses. When you have mastered it you will be better able to tackle more troublesome ones.
☐ Learn to spot your weakness. When it occurs. How it makes you feel. These clues will help you to spot when it happens.
☐ As soon as you notice it. Focus your attention on the weakness. See how it works. Disarm it and put it to one side out of harms way. Get on with using your strength.
☐ With practice you get better at doing this. You will learn to react quickly. Highlight the weakness. Take control of it. Overpower it. Dismiss it.
☐ Even when you feel that you have mastered your weakness. Don’t relax. Remain vigilant. Weaknesses have a way of surfacing again and again. When it comes to weaknesses complacency is an enemy. Focusing your attention on it every time it occurs disarms it. And empowers you.