One of the most freeing ideas that was ever delivered to me was this one. I spent a lot of my adult years trying to overcome my many, many weaknesses. That was a lot of spent energy that could have been directed toward creating amazing things using my strengths.
Our culture, society and certainly advertisers place much emphasis on our weakness because they are our vulnerabilities. We will certainly buy a product if it could possibly, maybe, make us feel better about something they are making us feel bad about. Weaknesses are not to be confused with obstacles. Obstacles truly do make us stronger and prepare us for living in an expanded place. Weaknesses have a purpose and it is not to make us feel bad about ourselves.
I have a client who works in the finance department of a large oil company. When she came to me for coaching, between contract jobs, she was wondering if she should be entertaining other possible career options.
“Well,” I began, “so numbers, calculations, spread sheets; these things light you up?”
“NO!” she adamantly exclaimed. “I struggle with the framework incessantly. With each new contract it’s like I have to learn everything from the bottom up each and every time. I forget everything and I can’t even apply what I did before in the same job but in this new place.”
Having trouble remembering certain types of information is actually a very big clue and all my Life Coach bells began ringing.
“You mean to say, that you have had this career for 25 plus years and you still struggle with its application?” I was trying not to sound incredulous.
“Yes, it is one of my weaknesses,” she explained.
This is excellent information to have. If you are struggling to nail down exactly what your strengths are, knowing what your weaknesses are, is certainly a great starting point.
My client had spent the better part of her adult life working to overcoming her weakness. She was understandably very tired.
What really lights her up is interior decorating. She loves to paint rooms and co-ordinate upholstery and drapery fabrics with pillows. She said she could even see herself working in a chain box store and loving it, if she could work in the area of interior decorations. That’s how you know it is one of your strengths. The idea of doing it gives you energy and optimism and even physical strength.
She is currently working another contract job in the finance department, but is taking interior design classes in her spare time.
Sometimes hitting on what really lights you up can take a bit longer and require more of a search, especially if you’ve been forcing yourself for many years to do things that you don’t love.
You can apply this weak/strong awareness to other areas of your life as well. Think relationships. Are there people around you who bring out the best in you? What about those who drain your energy? Even food. Once you start to pay attention, you will notice that some foods definitely make you feel great and others that make you feel like, well, you know, not good.
Take some time to tune into your physical state during various activities. You are designed a certain way and the things that make you weak and the things that make you strong are clues to help you figure what really is best for you.
I'd love to hear about your discoveries!