We always recommend that we should discover our strengths and make the most of them rather than deal with our weaknesses. It is the most productive, most efficient, and especially, the most satisfying thing for us.
But what happens when because of personal decisions that we have prioritised, we are in an environment that is not conducive to express our strengths but rather tends to expose our weaknesses?
Someone I know is in that situation. I know him almost as well as I know myself. Rather, exactly like myself. To write what I am writing, I interviewed him and asked him what advantages dealing with your weaknesses has. Here are his words that I have transcribed:
Specifically, I am working hard to internationalise my social enterprise on another continent (note: this post was originally written in 2013), in which they also speak several other languages, none of them being exactly mine. Some of the main challenges I face are:
– Not having a native level in those languages,
– Finding a very different market to the one I know, with a very different idiosyncrasy,
– Lacking a local contact network from having never lived, studied or worked here before.
And with reference to these weaknesses, now I share my list of the 7 main advantages of my weaknesses:
1- They force me to slow down
Naturally, I have to go slower to read in another language, and even more when I want to speak or write. So, while this generates an effort for certain neurons, it gives others more breathing space, more time to connect.
2- They lead me to delegate
When there is no other choice, I find myself having to delegate issues that I would have never delegated before. Of course I didn’t change much either, so, after receiving what they prepared for me, I ended up editing and changing several things. But there is at least a basis on which to work and not start from scratch with my second hand tools.
3- They teach me to say no
Now that I know what it costs (in time and mental effort and morale) to design a project and prepare a proposal, I learned to rule out certain orders or ‘teaser’ opportunities. To assess probabilities and costs more warily which before were hidden.
4- They allow me to appreciate what strengths I do have and that I took for granted
Consciously, I realise that I have the resources to express, transmit enthusiasm, lead, teach, sell, etc .. in my language. I knew it, but I never saw it as clearly until I was so far out of my comfort zone.
5- They keep me awake
There is nothing I can do on ‘autopilot’. In fact, more than just staying awake, many times I literally lose sleep. For example, after hours and hours spent trying to compose an email in French, I want to go to sleep but I find myself with my eyes closed still thinking about how to express what I wanted to say and could not.
6- They give me an excuse for misunderstandings
The famous ‘I don’t understand’ can be used. Discreetly, of course, because that excuse has an expiration date. And because I do not like this whole thing of not taking charge, but there is this advantage, it is undeniable.
7-They help me to justify my failures and slumps to myself
This is the most dangerous advantage. It works; It is an advantage because at the time it brings some relief. But in the long term, if we don’t come clean to ourselves; if we don’t inquire further to see what happens to us internally beyond these circumstances, we run the risk of being trapped in a lead-lined life-jacket. Which we will never try to get out of.
And an added bonus, which does not require more explanation than the title:
8- They give me words to write this post.