How To Use Your Strengths To Improve Your Weaknesses
A gameplan for addressing your weaknesses to become a more well-rounded individual
Recently listened to The Tim Ferriss Show where Ann Miura Ko was on and I was fascinated by her story.
Ann, as a child, was so shy that one time, while at a concert, her brother had to come on stage to introduce Ann to the audience. Ann found it incredible that she could get up on stage to play in front of the audience, but that she could not say a word. Later, in high school and university, she became a world-class debater.
How did she transform from a shy kid to a world-class debater?
Ann’s strength: competitiveness
One of Ann’s strengths was her competitive nature. Gamify something or make an activity worth points and she would find ways to excel. That’s what happened when she approached debating — it was making public speaking a competition and Ann wanted to win at everything she participated in.
So how can you improve your weaknesses? Leverage your strengths
Sometimes, you have to be creative in how you leverage your strengths (and yes, you have natural strengths, even if you don’t know you do). Here are a few examples from my life where I have leveraged my strengths to improve my weaknesses:
- I am painfully shy as an introvert. Still am. But I excel in one on one or intimate conversations. When I joined Toastmasters speaking to audiences of 10, 20 or 100 people, I imagined speaking to a few people in the audience at a time. Having this mindset helped me overcome the fear of speaking to so many people.
- When I first joined management consulting, I was an awful management consultant. But, one thing I was interested in and decent at was design. So rather than try to wordsmith and craft the perfect sentence in reports or slides, I let images and visuals tell the story. The bonus here was that there’s less wordsmithing that goes on — your manager won’t change “challenges” to “opportunities” for example.
In essence, what I gather from Ann’s story and my examples are:
- Identify your weaknesses. Identify your strengths.
- Use one of the following strategies to overcome known weaknesses:
- Ask yourself if your weakness really is a weakness (i.e., do you need to improve this? What would happen if you ignored it?) If you can’t or won’t ignore it, continue on.
- Can you ‘substitute’ or replace one weakness with another strength in some way?
- Can you combine your strength and weakness together so that you can gamify improvement? (like Ann’s example of being competitive and overcoming public speaking)
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