The oh so familiar question “What is your greatest weakness and what are you doing to overcome it?” leads us to believe that in order to advance in career, we have to work hard at overcoming our weaknesses. Contrary to this common belief, it is far wiser to admit a weakness, ask for support and delegate.
What is a Weakness?
What is a weakness, anyways? It’s an activity that makes you feel weak, drained, uninspired, or scared. You may be able to perform tasks that make you feel weak, but they always take a lot more energy than tasks that make you feel strong. Take a moment now to notice what activities make you feel weak and jot down your insights.
How Do You Hide Your Weaknesses?
Often, we carry shame about a weakness and try to hide it at all costs, pretending that we don’t have any weaknesses. This was the case with Rod (not his real name) who hired me as his coach a few years ago. He was in a very stressful job and was struggling with heart rhythm irregularities. He knew things needed to change but didn’t know quite how.
Rod was Chief Financial Officer at a medium size corporation. As we explored his natural strengths, we quickly discovered that he was very well suited for his role. Rod is a real whiz at numbers and loves problem solving. What caused him sleepless nights and heart palpitations weren’t the regular duties, but the frequent requests of the Chief Executive Officer (let’s call her Jen) to give presentations on behalf of the company.
Jen loves public speaking and secures many speaking opportunities ranging from community events to industry conferences. When other pressing tasks conflicted with her speaking engagements, she asked Rod to step in and present on behalf of the company.
Even though Rod dreaded public speaking, he had been saying yes to these requests for years. When Rod received presentation assignments, he worked extra hours to write out and rehearse his speech. Rod always walked onto the stage with sweaty palms and shaky knees. He initially thought that public speaking would get easier with practice, but it didn’t. However, with all the extra work he put in, Rod usually pulled off a good presentation, which led to Jen asking him for this favour again and again.
Take a moment now to reflect on how you may be hiding your weaknesses. Do you work extra hours to compensate for a weakness? Are you saying yes to tasks that drain you? Do you avoid situations that could reveal your weakness to others? How is this affecting your health and well-being? Take some quality time to journal about your insights. Growing your awareness about how you currently hide your weakness and how it affects your well-being are important steps towards positive change.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Through coaching, Rod realized that he needed to share with Jen how much extra work went into these presentations and how exhausted he felt each time. Even though Rod was scared that Jen would hold this weakness against him, he knew he needed to free himself of this burden to save his health.
When Jen learnt about Rod’s struggle, she apologized profusely. Jen had assumed that Rod was having a great time giving presentations, just because it was one of her own favourite tasks. Their respect and appreciation for each other deepened as a result of this honest conversation. Rod’s health improved as he established healthier boundaries and owned his weakness.
What do you need to do to own your weakness more fully? Take a moment to check in with yourself. How can you let go of tasks that drain you? What kind of honest conversation(s) do you need to initiate? Just like Rod, you may be surprised to see your relationships deepen as a result of your courageous action steps. As you learn to respect your weakness, you will be more respected for who you truly are.
Now that you are well on your way to own your weaknesses and set healthy boundaries, take another powerful step: Join CAREER CLARITY MINI-RETREAT, reconnect with your confidence, discover your strengths and get empowered to pursue your fulfilling career!