“Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing yourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren’t. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it is only when you accept everything you are – and aren’t – that you will truly succeed.” – Andrew Guzaldo
I love this quote. It reminds me to focus on my strengths, while never forgetting my weaknesses. So many people out there do a great job of analyzing their shortcomings – “I’m too short. I’m too fat. I’m not as smart as my peers. I don’t have a college education. I talk too much. I don’t talk enough. I’m too shy. I’m not assertive enough. I don’t have any work experience. I’m not in touch with my emotions enough.”
The world tells you to focus on, change or hide those shortcomings so you can be a better person. However, this can take you away from all your gifts, all the things you have to offer the world, the traits you were either born with or skills you’ve developed. Not to mention that working on changing or hiding parts of who you are may just be a monumental waste of time with little or no added value.
Growing up, I had insecurities about two things: Being short and shy. Society says to be noticed you have to be tall, a lesson I learned when I got my first pair of heels… at the age of ten! And no joking, I wore 4-5 inch platforms throughout college (hey platforms were cool in the 90’s). Being introverted only made things even harder. My family, friends and even teachers led me to believe that these traits together would essentially relegate me to being a wallflower, overlooked unless I could change or hide them.
#1 I’m short.
Guess what? I’m still short (5’3). Has that ever affected my success or happiness? – Not one bit. I got to a point in my mid-twenties when I stopped worrying what people thought anymore. I learned to embrace my height. Would I love it if I were 5’8? – Sure! But am I down on myself because I’m not? – Nope.
There are actually quite a few advantages to be being little. For example, I don’t have to worry about leg room on a flight. Ha! While all the tall passengers are struggling to get comfortable, I just curl up and take a nap.
#2 I’m introverted.
I’m still introverted, but I’m no longer shy. My severe shyness often held me back. I dwelled on it for years. I envied people that could easily spark up conversations at parties. But at some point, I stopped focusing on it as a weakness. I took small steps to get myself out of my comfort zone – I volunteered to give one presentation at work, I reached out to one new person to make a connection, I took a class, etc.
Before I realized it, I was meeting new people, trying new adventures, taking risks, speaking up for my beliefs, and presenting in front of hundreds of people.
When people tell me they can’t network because they have a hard time talking to strangers, I tell them that’s bologna. Being introverted doesn’t have to be a weakness. You just have to accept that it is going to be a little tougher for you to talk to people, but it’s not impossible.
What would it be like if I focused on my so-called shortcomings?
I wouldn’t be confident in myself and that would show through. I would try to over-compensate by speaking up in a meeting before I was ready. I wouldn’t take the time to develop strong, trusting relationships with my peers, subordinates, and superiors. I wouldn’t have tripled my income in a matter of a few years. I wouldn’t have started this blog.
You see, I know that I may come across at times as unknowledgeable about a subject because I’m not the first one to speak in a board room. Initially, people may doubt my abilities because I take time to observe my environment before taking action. But you know what? That doesn’t bother me anymore.
If I were to give into that worry, I would say something that didn’t actually present the value that I bring to the table: a thought out, educated and well informed opinion on what the situation calls for.
Instead, I focus on the fact that I’m a great listener. I understand people and their needs because I let them speak before I jump in with my ideas. In the long run, people know they can trust and rely on me to deliver. My results and my long-term relationships speak for themselves.
“Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves.” – Joyce C. Lock
My strength happens to be that I can spot problems easily. I can see gaps in systems, things, and people. My brain naturally thinks of all the positives and negatives in every interaction.
Whether I’m helping large corporations figure out why they’re not seeing the number of their product defects going down, why someone hasn’t been able to get an interview after two months of job searching, or why a team isn’t getting along. I’ve learned to build my work around this strength.
Know your top 3 strengths
If you’re not sure what your strengths are, think about the following questions. What advice do your friends and family call you for? What are you really good at? What personality trait or special skill gives you an edge?
Are you athletic?
Do people gravitate towards you because of your bubbly personality?
Do you get things done quickly?
Are you super organized?
Are you competitive?
Are you usually the voice of reason?
Remember your strengths and focus on them. Nurture them over time. Use them and build your life around them.
It’s your responsibility to acknowledge and accept the strikes against you, but it’s also your responsibility to rise above those so called weaknesses, learn to manage around them, all the while remaining fully focused on your strengths.
Because it’s your strengths that will lead you to success.
What is YOUR biggest strength?