The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management: #16 Make Peace with Your Weaknesses

seven-omegaYou have years of experience in crunching numbers for business case analyses, writing marketing and tactical action plans, quickly analyzing business situations, all of which used to be your weaknesses but are now finely tuned strengths.

All of a sudden, you’re getting feedback from others that you’re too quick to assess a problem, don’t allow people to end their sentences because you’re too busy finishing it for them, assume that you already have the answers, having become a “know it all” in your area of expertise.

Your Strength is Now Your Weakness?

What’s happened? Your strengths have officially become your weaknesses as Marshall Goldsmith would say.

This is a good thing, since it means you’ve achieved mastery of your skill set that’s taken years to develop, but bad because your strengths may be hindering you, keeping you from being open to new ideas, approaches, or feedback from others.

My strengths are listening patiently to those who have less experience than I do, coaching underlings in areas that I have mastery in, and taking responsibility for my mistakes.

What’s the dark side of these strengths? I sometimes interrupt people as they’re talking, believing that I know what they’re going to say, mistakenly offering advice on what I think they’re going to ask me; provide unsolicited advice by not allowing the other person learn from their mistakes; and at times, fall on the sword or beating myself up for making mistakes.

Being Too Hard on Yourself

For example, one of my former VPs always told me, “You’re too hard on yourself. Knock it off. What’s done is done. I’m sure you’ll remember to not do it again.” As I was beating myself up, I privately suffered from making mistakes because I was so careful to not make them; it drove me crazy when I did happen to make a mistake. In fact, I continue to battle this weakness today. I’m always in disbelief that even made the mistake!

My advice? Don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re not perfect. We still have weaknesses, but now we also have over developed strengths that we need to manage.

Action Items

If you think you have weaknesses:

  • Assess and analyze: Make a list your personal and work weaknesses
  • Review your list: Review each weakness on how you can work on it by changing it into a strength, such as doing research on it
  • Practice: Practice overcoming the weakness privately, then trying it out at work

If you have strengths:

  • Assess and analyze: Do the same assessment and analysis like you did for your weaknesses
  • Review your list: But this time identify any strengths that you believe may have turned into weaknesses
  • Ask for feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted people on how your strengths are overwhelming them and what they think the proper response should have been.
  • Be mindful: Become aware in the moment where your strengths can go sideways on you, preparing to short circuit it before, so you can re-learn the strength’s proper level of intensity.

Don’t Seek Too Much Perfection

omegaYou are not Borg. Don’t be Seven of Nine going crazy over Omega in pursuit of excellence. My point is to make peace with your weaknesses. We’re not perfect. I still have a long list of things that I consider weaknesses that drive me crazy. As I get older, it’s getting harder for me to have patience with my weaknesses because I feel like I’m waiting from them to turn into strengths all by themselves.

It’s a bummer that your strengths turn into weaknesses over time. The trick is knowing when your strength has become a weakness.

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The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management series outlines my rules of personal and work success. After reflecting on my personal values, I made this list, realizing values are my rules of being or life management principles. Based on your experiences, I hope this list inspires you to identify your own rules. Here are the rules to my success that may help you over the course of your journey:

smart-lemming-pyramid-level-4

Level 1: Rules for Our Fundamental Nature

Level 2: Rules of Continuous Learning and Modeling

Level 3: Rules for the Actual Journey

Level 4: Rules of Adapting to Environment and Interacting with Others

Level 5: Rules of Humility

Level 6: Rule of Being

  • #21 Be compassionate.