Yesterday I discussed how your greatest strengths can often be your greatest weaknesses. I refer to this as the “double edged sword”.
Similarly, I also believe that we can turn our greatest WEAKNESSES into our biggest strengths.
My favorite example of this is Malcolm Gladwell, the NY Times Best-Selling Author. In this podcast with Tim Ferriss, he discusses how impatience was one of his biggest weaknesses early on in his career.
He struggled with a lot of half finished assignments. Half-assed work that didn’t get completed to the best of his abilities.
Instead of a 2 hour interview that was great, he settled for the 1 hour interview that was OK. Instead of asking more questions, he was satisfied when he had enough to complete his examples.
So what did he do? He created systems to ensure he would do things thoroughly. He created checklists and processes so that he could catch himself when he was rushing through projects.
As a result, became incredibly detail oriented. He became borderline OCD. This attention to detail is what would eventually give him his best-selling books.
He turned his greatest weakness (impatience) into his greatest strength (detail oriented).
Similarly, this is something I have battled with as well. I personally struggle with ADHD, and I am distracted easily.
In order to combat my easily distracted tendencies, I created systems to help me stay focused. I turned off all push notifications and leave my phone on airplane mode for extended periods of time. I only check email 1x/day. I removed my Facebook newsfeed. I practiced meditation.
I became a more systematic person. I became aware of bad habits and developed systems to overcome them. I developed structure where I previously had none. I replaced spontaneity with discipline to give myself more space for spontaneity.
Now, I’m a productivity powerhouse. I’m a laser focused machine, drilled into my work, often experiencing extended periods of being “in the zone.” I can dive into work for hours on end without losing focus or getting bored.
I took my greatest weakness (ADHD), and turned it into my greatest strength (focus and concentration).
Jocko Wilinck describes this as “Discipline=Freedom”. By implementing discipline to overcome our bad habits, we create the necessary space for true creative effort aka freedom.
We can eliminate bad habits before we begin so that they don’t prevent us from getting the real work done. We can discover what we’re bad at, and then create a process or system for making it stop.
Take an inventory of your life, your work, and your friendships. See where your biggest weaknesses lie.
If you notice that you have a tendency to rush through projects, create checklists to make sure you have done everything thoroughly.
If you notice that you’re a bad listener, create techniques to make sure that you remain attentive and focused with the person you’re talking to.
If you’re bad at remaining disciplined with exercise, find someone who will work out with you so that you hold each-other accountable.
Find what you’re bad at, and turn it into a strength. Weaknesses are diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered. Pull that fucker out of the dirt and polish it off so you can bling your way through life 🙂
By overcoming weakness we become better versions of ourselves. Stronger, more intelligent versions of ourselves. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Turn disadvantage into advantage, grab life by the balls, and take action to build the life you deserve.
Also published on Medium.