Overcoming Your Weaknesses in 5 Steps

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In This Post

  • We ALL have weaknesses, and coming to terms with our inability to be perfect is freeing
  • Techniques for understanding and acknowledging our weaknesses
  • Ways to ask for help to deal with your weaknesses
  • How you can change how you view your weaknesses and use them as motivation for improvement
  • You know your weaknesses, but do you know your strengths?

Whether we like it or not, we all have flaws. One of the hardest things you can do in life is overcoming your weaknesses. Maybe you’re bad at time management and you’ve been dubbed the ‘late friend’. You might know your sibling is the favourite because you’re not good at remembering to call your mum. Perhaps you can be snappy, moody and a little unfair when you’re under a lot of stress. Does any of this sound familiar?

As annoying as it is to admit, reaching the status of ‘perfection’ is inherently impossible. Everyone will have their definition of what it means to be the perfect student, partner, friend, leader or human. Even if we could decide collectively on what the total ideal person was, the chances of anyone reaching that are pretty slim.

The good news is, however, you don’t need to be perfect. A success rate of 80% is pretty much the benchmark for success. While you shouldn’t give up on your dreams of self development and making meaningful improvements in your life, you can rest easy knowing that you don’t need to rid yourself of all your human (and natural) shortcomings, quirks and oddities. Being human is all about being a little rough around the edges sometimes.

That being said, an unwillingness to address your weaknesses is not the best path forward. Your actions impact yourself and the people around you, and making changes and becoming a better version of yourself is a fun journey to go on – and a very rewarding one too. It can (and hopefully will) span the whole of your life, so learn to enjoy the process of improvement, without worrying about the end goal.

Today we’re going to go through 5 tips on how to deal with your weaknesses so that you can use them to your advantage, increase your chances of success, and progress towards your goals.

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1. Recognise and Accept Your Weaknesses

Figuring out what your flaws are is a tough thing to do, so to begin with you might need to take some time to truly understand where you’re perhaps lacking. It can be easy to view ourselves with rose-tinted glasses, and perhaps not look deep enough. This isn’t a job interview, being honest with yourself is going to be more helpful than claiming your only weakness is your ‘perfectionism’. It took me a long time to realise, yes, I was a perfectionist to my detriment, but I also had other flaws too!

For some of you, it might be obvious what your flaws are, maybe you’re naturally quite critical and you can list 100s of things that you know you don’t do well. Or, you might be struggling, not because you think you’re perfect, but maybe you just don’t know yourself all too well.

It’s most helpful here to keep your list relevant, useful and relatively short. Having a shopping list of critiques makes it hard to know where to start, and being overly critical of yourself can even be considered a flaw in itself – maybe add it to your list, and cut yourself some slack at the same time! You should also consider the importance of a flaw – you could consider my inability to ski, play chess, or speak Mandarin a flaw, but none of these are particularly problematic in my day-to-day life. Picking flaws that actually have relevance is therefore essential.

If you’re struggling to think of 5-10 areas of weakness, consider doing some research and collecting evidence. Remember to be honest with yourself, but not overly pessimistic. Some things you can do to help get some more information include:

  • Ask for feedback. Ask for honest feedback from people you trust, such as your manager, colleagues, friends or family members. They can provide you with valuable insights about areas you may need to work on. Picking someone who will tell you the truth is important, but you also don’t want to have your ego completely knocked down, so pick someone honest and sensitive to your well-being.
  • Evaluate your performance. Take the time to evaluate your performance and identify areas where you struggle or where you feel you could improve. This could be in an area like your academic studies, so using your grades on tests, or maybe your times from your runs, or your PBs at the gym.
  • Take personality tests. Personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the DISC assessment, can help you understand your natural tendencies and behaviours, as well as identify areas where you may need to improve. These are only helpful if you’re honest when answering the survey questions, and you might need to take the results with a pinch of salt, but if you’re struggling, they can be helpful!
  • Reflect on past experiences. Think about situations where you may have struggled or received negative feedback, and try to identify any common themes or patterns. There might be a time that jumps out to you where you know you could’ve done better – use concrete examples from your experiences to help you find out what you can improve. A useful way to keep track of your progress is through journaling – this can be particularly helpful if your weakness is associated with your mindset – e.g., if you’re overly anxious, or if you are quick to catastrophise situations
  • Be open-minded. Be willing to listen to feedback and consider different perspectives, even if they are critical of your performance. After thinking about yourself and asking others, you might be presented with a flaw that you weren’t aware of, or maybe you’re in denial or trying to avoid accepting your current state. Remember, you will get the most benefits from this task if you are radically honest.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

So, you’ve identified your flaws. You might have a cute little list of your failures as a human, and (hopefully) you’re at peace with them! Being in a state of radical acceptance and acknowledgement of what we’re lacking is challenging, but the sooner you face reality the better. You don’t have to like your flaws, you might even really dislike them, but understanding that they’re there is the first step to removing them, or at least improving them.

The second tip is all about not being worried about getting assistance from others. This could look like reaching out to your friends or family who are much more skilled in these areas than you. It could also look like getting professional help if you’re particularly worried about them. You might sign up for a course or find a coach to help you learn more about the area, so you can help yourself.

Seeking mentors and using your existing social network is a great way to improve on your weaknesses because someone with the very skills or experiences you’re looking to recreate will have also started as a beginner. They can sympathise with your position and give you the most relevant and useful guidance.

Asking for help and support from others is not a problem and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person for struggling with something. Everyone struggles with something and if you are actively seeking to deal with your challenges, you’re a much stronger, braver and better person than those who are too afraid to make changes. Don’t let fear or embarrassment hold you back. You deserve to look after yourself.

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3. Reconceptualise How You View Your Weaknesses

Rather than feeling defeated by your weaknesses, try to view them as an opportunity for growth, improvement and future success. If we were all perfect, life would be very boring and we wouldn’t ever feel the truly great feeling of improving and making progress. It is incredibly rewarding to see a project through from start to finish, and you, and your weakness, can be that project. Try to view them not as something negative, but as an opportunity for a positive change and positive outcome.

If you’ve identified your main weakness as your shyness and fear of social situations, try to reconsider this as an opportunity to develop positive skills like social confidence and self-esteem. Your flaws might also have positive qualities in their own way too. For example, even though you’re very shy, you might simultaneously be a great listener, a great team player and non-argumentative. By changing the way you view your weaknesses, you can enter a growth mindset which will allow you to make the most out of any given situation, ultimately leading to better results over time.

4. Use Your Weaknesses as Motivation

If you’ve successfully reconceptualised your failures and flaws as opportunities for growth and self-mastery, you can start to use your weaknesses as a source of motivation. As you go along your journey of working out how to improve in your specified areas, you can feel motivated and are more likely to want to work harder to tackle your flaws. Tackling this challenge gives you a sense of momentum that will spill into other areas of your life, giving you a general uplifting sense of being.

Maybe you’ve acknowledged your physical health is an area of weakness, and the improvements you’re seeing in that area have given you lots more confidence. With this increased sense of self-esteem, maybe you feel more inclined to push yourself in other areas of life, like applying for that exciting job opportunity or going out to meet new people. Raising your self-esteem through actively improving areas of weakness is an incredible source of self-motivation. You can access this little boost any time you want by seeking to improve areas of existing weakness.

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5. Leverage Your Strengths

As mentioned earlier, with many flaws there are unintentional strengths. You might be a terrible sports player, but all those hours not in the gym have meant that you’re incredibly smart, or you’re a great programmer, chess player or artist. With self-acceptance and understanding of your flaws, you learn to view yourself as a whole, rather than as a fragmented being, avoiding the parts of yourself that you don’t like. A positive side-effect of this, is you also become much more aware of your existing strengths.

You can use your heightened awareness of your strengths to your advantage – seeking opportunities to highlight them, use them, practise them and continue to develop them. We often enjoy practising and improving things we are already good at, so finding the motivation to push yourself to work on these skills isn’t going to be too difficult. You can also ensure that when you’re in a situation where you need to play to your strengths, e.g., in a group setting, you’re going to be sure that you are setting yourself up for success.

To Put it Minimally

  • When you can come to terms with the fact that you will always have some weaknesses, imperfections and failures, you can set yourself free from the debilitating perfectionist mindset
  • The first step to overcoming your weaknesses is knowing what they are, and accepting your current stage in your self-development journey
  • Asking others for help, or reflecting by yourself, can help you understand your weaknesses and where they come from, you can then use them as motivation for improving your life
  • If you know what you’re bad at, you should also figure out what you’re good at – so you can leverage your strengths when you need to