If we ask the people closest to us to name our unique qualities, we may or may not be surprised by what they say. The reason they adore us may be the very same reason others criticize us. What one person defines strength, another defines weakness.
No one loves to admit weakness. That's because we've been conditioned to view strengths at one end of the spectrum and weaknesses at the other. One positive and one negative. One an area of excellence, and the other, an area of improvement. When did these become polar opposites?
We're taught to isolate our weaknesses and associate them with failure; we believe that unless we change, this failure is inevitable. So we conform and part with our authentic self, only to meet disappointment.
Do these examples sound familiar? The kid that couldn't sit still and disrupted class becomes a successful entrepreneur. The socially awkward loner, who annoyingly sets the exam curve, becomes a world-class scientist.
These people are the lucky ones. Instead of downplay a quality to "fit in," they embrace it. However, many of us choose the path to conformity. It is easier, more accepting, and unfortunately, less rewarding.
It's natural to label people a certain way in a certain situation, but weaknesses and strengths are words we use to disguise arbitrary borders we set. We take these labels too literally. To do so is both ignorant and one-dimensional. Thankfully, our world is multi-dimensional, and so are we.
The moment we shift our view, we realize that our biggest "weakness" has the greatest potential to become our defining strength.
Many of us are asked this popular behavioral question during an interview: what is your greatest weakness? We take said "weakness," flip it upside-down, and highlight it as a vital benefit for the team and the company. If we actually applied this mentality to our everyday life, we'd begin to see our lives play out differently.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves are we unrealistic or imaginative? Lazy or uninspired? Confrontational or vocal? We all share the same collection of traits; we just call them different things.
Weaknesses are both subjective and situational. Under the right circumstances, our abilities are close to limitless. The question becomes not how to change ourselves, but rather where we can thrive.
Once we answer this question, it's like a domino effect. One success after another begins to practically fall in our laps; this is the moment we learn to effectively harness our natural abilities in the right situations.
Whether we apply this concept to our personal or professional lives, it's a powerful one. Do you have a shortcoming or an opportunity? It's up to you.