- Question: When is a weakness not a weakness?
- Answer: When it’s a “misaligned strength.”
Huh? Clear as mud, right? Let me explain. Some weaknesses—a tendency to procrastinate, for example—are pretty clearly weaknesses in any context. But others are situational in nature. Something that is a weakness in one circumstance might be a strength in another.
Here’s an example from my own life. For years I envied people who were able to maintain a deep, single-track focus. It seemed to me that that was the key to success, and I just didn’t have it. I got bored with too much of the same, and needed the stimulation of variety and newness. I beat myself up regularly for not having “what it takes” to succeed.
Fast forward to my current work, with a mix of coaching, speaking and writing. Suddenly, what felt like a weakness—the need for variety and newness—fits hand-in-glove with what I’m doing.
In my coaching work, for example, I never know what is going to happen in any given session. I follow the discussion where it needs to go, making sure it stays on track but also allowing it to unfold organically. It’s completely unstructured. It’s also completely energizing.
On the other hand, that same person I admired for being able to stay so rigidly focused might feel lost in the work I’m doing now. What energizes me might drain them and feed a feeling of incompetence. Their strength—an ability to focus on one thing and follow it through to completion—could actually be a weakness in this situation.
Try this: Take stock of your perceived weaknesses. For each one you identify, ask yourself, “Is it possible that this is a misaligned strength?” If yes, explore what kind of situations would let that characteristic thrive.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.