How to Transform Weakness Into Strength

Three steps to building confidence and believing in yourself.

Acknowledging that you have a weakness may or may not be a difficult task for you, but if you can identify one then I’m confident you can learn to conquer it too. We’ll take a moment to understand the reasons behind a weakness and see how it’s possible to overcome it. I’d like to start by sharing a recent experience of someone close to me.

Before my wife began working in the banking industry she reviewed questions to ready herself for a thorough interview. In what seemed like preparation for an interrogation, I remember one evening she asked me to provide feedback with questions that could possibly be asked of her. Out of the questions we reviewed, there was one that left her speechless.

“What would your colleagues say is your biggest weakness?”

This question is designed to vet candidates on their level of honesty and openness, critical thinking, and ability to market themselves. I’ve been on both sides of the hiring process and the last thing you want to do or hear from the person you’re interviewing is to see them nose dive right in the middle of the interview by criticizing their self without some sort of positive spin. Throwing yourself under the bus is damaging, but being able to roll out from under the bus with a high-five attitude and a bit of charm is mildly impressive.

1. Identify your weakness

After a long pause she sighed and replied, “Probably, that I’m a perfectionist?” The way in which she answered was a question in and of itself. She was looking to me for confirmation on her initial thinking, but I believe she did not truly feel this was a weakness at all and I asked her why she felt this way in the first place.

2. Ask “Why?”

Through a series of simple questions I was able to determine she felt her perfectionism was a weakness, because many of her past coworkers were simply quite the opposite. She continued to elaborate by sharing that her perfectionism was born from others who were seemingly careless in the responsibilities of their role.

It turns out the underlying cause of her weakness is based on her belief in exceptional work ethic and performance. I could sense frustration in her voice as she expressed how her involvement working on a team with people who either did not take their role seriously or quite frankly as she put, “didn’t give a shit!”

3. Shift your perspective

Growing impatient with those who do not have the same drive and aspirations in life can be challenging. I can attest to this myself. It’s a battle of conformity that many of us go through and the test of acceptance or rebellion ultimately makes us who we are. I feel that my wife’s critique of herself speaks louder about her strengths than what she quickly deemed her weakness. More importantly, through the examination of her weakness she gained confidence.

Not only did my wife inspire me to share her experience of turning weakness into strength, but I was also inspired while reading Mark Schaefer and Standford Smith’s Born to Blog which introduced me to the popular blogger Katie Foster, author of Runs for Cookies. Katie claimed that cookies were her weakness and set out to lose 130lbs. I believe that Katie would not be where she is today if she had not identified her weakness to begin with. Her perseverance led thousands of readers through an inspiring journey of events that resulted in confidence among many and herself.

Ask yourself, is your biggest weakness your greatest strength?