Last week I wrote about knowing your core competency and why it’s so important to understand what you are good at. Today, we’re flipping the coin. It’s equally as important to know what you aren’t good at for plenty of reasons – most importantly, so you can give yourself a little grace when you find yourself struggling.
The Journey To Understanding Your Weaknesses
I’m going to start with a little story – in high school, I was one of those people who was pretty good at everything she did. I played sports, sang, did musicals, was in advanced placement classes, joined all the clubs, graduated seventh in my class and got along with mostly everyone. I don’t say this to brag, it was just my reality.
It wasn’t until later in life that I realized that it was only in my high school setting was that going to be the case. I went to a very, very small school and felt comfortable trying new things, or things I wasn’t great at, because I knew everyone involved. I also had a greater chance at being good at something comparatively just because there were less people going out for things. Had I gone to a bigger high school, I would have likely specialized in one thing or not even given it all a chance.
That being said, this situation didn’t exactly set me up for success. Once I went to college and became a small fish in a big pond, I could no longer be the jack-of-all-trades that I was in high school. I went from being above average in most things to just one of the masses. I had to start thinking about these things – what am I really good at? What am I really interested in? What am I really not that great at?
The first time I remember failing, hard, was in an accounting class in college. It was the first time I really struggled at understanding something. It was such a strange moment for me – I thought I was good at everything. I thought being “smart” would just be enough. It wasn’t until long after that class that I felt okay with the struggle and failure. I cannot and will not be good at everything, and only recently can I say I’m okay with that!
I struggled with accounting because I’m just not a numbers person. I was confused by this at first because I really, really enjoyed calculus, but looking back I can chalk that up to having an exceptional teacher! In my previous job, a lot of the work required reports and analytics. It was not that I couldn’t do or understand the work, but it took me twice as long to do those things as everyone else around me.
I’m also not great at detail. I’m a big picture type of person, so I’m the person throwing out big ideas in a brainstorm meeting, but when it gets to the nitty gritty about how we are going to accomplish those things, I shy away.
I have other weaknesses as well. I’m not very organized. I get overwhelmed with the thought of organization and putting things in order so usually I just choose not to. I also get incredibly awkward about meeting new people and would rather sit at home than go to a new place.
Weaknesses Are Just Opportunity
The good thing I’ve discovered about my weaknesses is that they are usually someone else’s strength and if you ask for help in understanding things, you are in a perfect opportunity to learn.
I have learned that I have a tendency to just duck and hide instead of facing my weaknesses head on. Because of this, I’ve made it a point this year to be intentional about learning about things I usually suck at! I’ve been reading, taking webinars and asking people I know excel in these areas for better explanations. I also recognize that when numbers or the “nitty gritty” have to get done, I need to truly focus. I know it’s going to take me longer because it doesn’t come naturally to me.
I also recognize that some of my weaknesses come out of insecurity or uncomfortable situations. I have to be intentional about getting uncomfortable, because it’s outside your comfort zone that you truly grow as a person.
By understanding your weaknesses, you are only setting yourself up for success. Not everything will come easily because we are all built differently. Do you know what your weaknesses are?