Be proud of your weaknesses
If there’s one thing I learned in those past 17 years as an entrepreneur is that I’m really bad at some stuff.
The thing is that more often than not, people around me noticed it even before I did…
It took me some time to realize it as in the beginning, we basically bootstrapped our way through entrepreneurship. We simply did everything. We started out in 1999 as a digital agency creating websites. I would be advising the client on their strategy, copywriting, developing the website’s architecture and even designing (that last one I’d do mostly at night). It made for fun and exciting times, and since we stayed in business I figured I must have been pretty good at everything I was doing!
And of course, that’s where I was wrong.
As we grew and started hiring, I really started seeing how some people were of course better than I was, I mean MUCH better. That’s when it became really exciting for the business!
But this also meant I would have to let go of some things I had been doing since we started out, things I had done “my way” all along (even worse, a lot of this stuff was self-taught… imagine!).
This is where I started to see how I really had sucked at some things all along.
People around me know I am extremely good at pitching, explaining, vulgarizing, speaking and convincing, but I’m awful at managing properly the resulting projects once they’re green-lighted. Things will fall through the cracks, trust me.
It’s not that I don’t care about details, or the client, or the deliverable. I’m just not the best person to take care of some of the parts of a project’s lifecycle.
And I’ve learned that the hard way.
Unhappy clients, subpar deliverables, I’ve done it all.
And worse, at times I kept it to myself and tried to cover it all!
It’s when you go through those situations that you realize you need to open your eyes and see where you failed, but also where you weren’t the best person to handle that part of a project.
Some people can do it much better than you, and that’s the reason you’ve built a team.
Realizing this is something to be proud of. I truly feel I’ve grown through all this. Putting things aside, leaving things for others and delegating at the right time in a project’s timeline. You’ll even enjoy your days better! Doing stuff at which you’re good at!
This is not a discussion or a post about trusting others, it’s about trusting yourself: that you’re not the best to do some things and that’s OK.
And you can be proud about it! Be proud of the fact you know your weaknesses.
Going through this process will actually make you happier, make you spend even more time at what you’re good at! Who wouldn’t want that?
There are two things I have discovered to be key in this process of finding your weaknesses:
- Open your eyes and your mind about it. Not that many people are unicorns capable of doing everything extremely well. No, really. Snap out of it. Even if you don’t necessarily have a better person to hand the reigns for everything you suck at, start noticing what you will need in the near future.
- Make sure your business partners, your colleagues or your closest friends will tell you when they see you creeping into something you’ve demonstrated not being the best tool in the shed for. They are your anchor and will the ones to remind you and help you through it, to find the right resources.
I have the chance to have a wife and business partners with whom we can have these honest and open discussions about weaknesses. And it has been key in how we’ve built our team (and continue doing so) and how we’ve delegated responsibilities between us.
I sure hope and wish this is a context as many as possible are or will be able to enjoy.
Be proud of your weaknesses. Embrace them and let someone else do it better than you would.
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I tie all my articles to a relevant book, a great read that allows you to dig deeper into what you just read.
For this one, Good to Great by Jim Collins immediately came to mind.
One of the rules he and his team found is all about getting the right people on board, but through this he also means getting to know who is best at what and who is not the best player for a given task.
“First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. Finding the right people and trying them out in different positions.