Connecting Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Photo by  Tony Frantz  | Okura Prestige Hotel Bangkok

Photo by Tony Frantz | Okura Prestige Hotel Bangkok

Everyone has weaknesses and is told to somehow fix these weaknesses. Is this the only solution? Is there no other way to look at our weaknesses? Are our weaknesses really detrimental to our success? The answer is a resounding no.

If this answer confuses you, let me walk you through a new way of thinking.

Recently, I read an article on LinkedIn by David Kerpen about turning your weaknesses into strengths. A link in the article led me to David Rendall's manifesto, “The Freak Show: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness.”

Rendall believes that each weakness has a corresponding strength and vice versa. Two sides of the same coin, if you’ll allow the cliché. Understanding this concept is vital when attempting to “overcome” your weaknesses.

A chart of the most common weaknesses and their corresponding strengths can be found on page six. Pick a couple of your biggest weaknesses and see how they are actually strengths in disguise. Do the same with a couple of your biggest strengths. It’s good to know potential obstacles to your strengths.

Most people think that they must build their strengths and fix their weaknesses simultaneously. The most important lesson Rendall imparts is that we cannot do this effectively. Building strengths while fixing weaknesses is exhausting work and eventually brings us down to the depths of mediocrity.

An excellent example from Rendall compares Walmart and Target’s business strengths and weaknesses. Walmart prides itself on low prices, a popular strength at the moment. But what is the corresponding weakness? Low-quality products and poor customer service. At the other extreme, Target prides itself on high-quality, name-brand products and excellent customer service. Corresponding weakness: high prices.

What happens when Walmart attempts to improve their quality in products and service and Target attempts to lower prices, while simultaneously building their respective strengths? According to Rendall, Kmart happens. A bankrupt store trying to sell high-quality products at low prices.

Rendall’s words to live by: “If you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll end up being nothing to nobody. Bad grammar, I know, but a good point.”

A good point, indeed. Don’t aim for normalcy, that’s boring. Your flaws make you unique and invaluable to your peers.

Someone might see me as shy, emotionless, and indecisive. That just means I am reflective, calm, and patient. That’s a more accurate description, and it doesn’t sound negative.

By Brooke