Back in high school, my biggest weakness was to raise my hand.
I knew the teacher would pick me, eventually.
I knew I would start stuttering uncontrollably.
I knew I would fail.
It was carved in stone.
[NOTE: I never raised my hand volunteeringly in class, up to that point. Was always picked because I didn’t participate in class and they had to give me a grade. I didn’t want to be too cool for school. In fact, most of the time I knew the answer but was afraid to speak in front of others. In retrospect: As a male, this is double-time, triple-time, quadruple-time unattractive. But then I remembered my German teacher Mr. Lakenbrink talking to my parents a few weeks prior to his death (he died when I was around 12 years young in 6th grade in Münster, 2005) and telling them I had to overcome this weakness. Otherwise, he didn’t know what would happen. He was a wise man. Thank you!]
Back to me being picked by whatever teacher (until it all changed in 9th grade in mid-2008):
My fingers got sweaty—whether I forced myself to raise ’em or teachers picked me regardless—I could hardly breathe, couldn’t catch a thought…
Now that I go back in time, these are painful memories.
Memories that shaped the man I am today. Why?
(I had little to no real friends, was still a virgin… all things aside…)
Because I not only overcame these “weaknesses”, and came out the other side as a stronger version of myself (humble brag)… I realized this one simple life truth:
Your biggest weakness is your biggest strength in disguise.
There can’t be a downside without an upside.
There can’t be pleasure without pain.
There can’t be pain without pleasure (eventually, hopefully).
And there can’t be strengths without weaknesses—and vice versa.
To be exact, every strength has a downside and every weakness has an upside.
Being quiet and reserved isn’t seen as a strength in our society.
It goes without explanation.
In many professions—especially, in our fast-paced working world—we need people who are quick on their feet, can make decisions (without second-guessing themselves), and can keep believing in their own BS, no matter what. I admire them.
I am not decisive.
I am not spontaneous and I hate improvising.
(Don’t invite me for “Truth Or Dare.” Ever.)
And I am not someone who likes to pretend to be someone I’m not.
Work on yourself.
Force yourself to overcome your key weaknesses; while simultaneously mastering skills that build on your natural strength.
For me (introvert), that’s:
- Write well
- Say what you want to say and, then, shut up (aka, “assertive communication”)
- Listen more, talk less
- Stop pleasing others, unless they deserve “it”
- Realize that everyone needs to “recharge” but for me that’s being alone. After a long day around many people, I don’t need “extra” attention
While the first point has been my primary focus since mid-2014 (after turning my social life around and beginning to realize other people may need help in this area), I still need to address other areas in my life.
Don’t want to drag this article longer than needed.
I suggest you follow the 80/20 principle.
That’s what I’d do anyway (subconsciously).
Maybe it helps you, too.
Instead of going all over the place…
…When it comes to personal development…
…Spend 20% on working on my weaknesses…
…And 80% on my strength.
This way you stay sane and true to yourself.
Why else have you been put on this planet in these difficult times?
It’s a realization I got writing this article.
Nothing more, nothing less.
You are in charge of your own life — live it.