"Believe in yourself, and use everything you can -- including the obstacles -- to propel you along the road to success." -- Richard Branson, Businessman and Investor
Everyone has weaknesses -- great leaders, business executives, startups founders. All have one thing in common: they are aware of their weaknesses. This knowledge or sense of awareness has allowed them to turn their weaknesses into strengths. It's difficult to eradicate a weakness. Be it something that has been attached to you for a long time or it a bad habit, however, it's something that can be solved with a little extra work.
1. Identify Your Weaknesses
Defining your weaknesses is a difficult process, but a very important one in order to achieve success. Although we have a hard time admitting our own weaknesses, it seems like everyone else has no trouble pinpointing them. Ask someone you trust about your weaknesses. It's often just as difficult to give criticism as it is to receive it so tell the other person the reason why you want to know your weaknesses. Tell them you want to understand your weaknesses and they will be more comfortable speaking with you. Try searching for things that you might not like to do and ask yourself if you really dislike it or if you just find it difficult to do.
2. Turning Weaknesses into Strengths
At times a perceived weakness hides one of your greatest strengths. You can uncover some of your greatest strengths by taking an in-depth look at your weaknesses. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, struggles with dyslexia. He struggled in school. Teachers mentioned his inability to focus on his schoolwork. He could have given up and taken a completely different path in life, but he focused on his weakness to make it one of his strengths. Branson used his weakness by being acutely aware of the opportunities in front of him and a fearless business sense.
From an early age he knew he has different from his fellow students. He created Student Magazine when he was still in school and sold mail-order records. This turned into an opportunity to open a record store, Virgin Records, which was his big break.
Another example of someone who used their weaknesses toward success is Steve Jobs. He was notorious for his inability to relate and be empathetic to coworkers. Instead of being that guy everyone hated, he turned his weakness into his design. Although he wasn't keen on socializing, he put all his focus on making sure the Apple computer was the best that it could be. He changed his perspective and saw his weakness in a different light which then turned it into a strength.
We all know Thomas Edison as the man who gave us the light bulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera. He was an inventor with 1,093 U.S. patents to his name as well as other patents in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. As a child, Edison had a wandering mind. This led to his inability to continue learning in a school setting and he had to be taught at home by his mother. He had difficulty with speech and words but that didn't stop him from being a prolific inventor.
Bruce Willis, known for his action-packed movies, suffered from a severe stutter for the first 20 years of his life. When he started acting, he found it easy to express himself on stage and lost his stutter in the process. This then led to a career in acting both on Broadway and in movies.
Although we might not all be like Richard Branson and see the opportunity as it comes, there are ways we can learn to be more like him by overcompensating our weaknesses. We can turn weaknesses into strengths in the following ways:
• Work on your lagging areas by taking courses, seminars or tutorials.
• Assess your weaknesses. Find an opposite and see if it's a strength.
• Overcompensate. Become so good at your strengths that your weaknesses can be ignored or delegated to someone else.
4. Others May Have the Same Problem
If having a perceived weakness is a problem for you, it's probably a problem for someone else as well. Many successful entrepreneurs developed a product or a service because it was something they needed themselves. Rather than wait for someone else to jump on the opportunity, they took advantage. They created something that was both useful for themselves and for others. By compensating for a deficiency, the weakness became a successful venture.
Self-discovery of weaknesses is an important process that is beneficial to everyone. Not only can you learn about your hidden self and the hidden talents you may have, but you will benefit greatly by accepting yourself. If you are aware of your true self, accept your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. You will have a greater chance of success. It would be a very different world if people like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs gave into their weaknesses.