Identifying Your Personal Weaknesses

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

We have already discussed how you can identify your personal strengths in this other blog (link to Identifying Your Personal Strengths blog post). However, it is equally important to be able to identify your weaknesses and find ways to counter them. A lot of us find it difficult to admit our weaknesses because it is human nature to not easily admit something that might make us look inferior to others. You need a certain level of self-awareness so you can evaluate your areas of improvement. Moreover, we tend to look so much at working on our strengths that we miss working on our weaknesses, often worsening them with our ignorance.

This blog post aims to help you do some data mining of your own so you can understand the importance of knowing your weaknesses, identifying them as well as working on them to become a better version of yourself.

Let us start by looking at what you can do to identify your personal weaknesses.

  • Take Notice of What You Are Avoiding. Analyze your calendars to see the tasks that you are spending more time on. It will also show you the tasks that you are not giving a lot of time to – maybe you are doing this deliberately because you are not comfortable doing them. If there is a task that you are leaving to the next day on a regular basis without any compelling reason, then chances are that you are doing this on purpose. You might have not mastered those tasks and all that goes in them. For example, there is a group presentation that you have to prepare, but you are avoiding this because you feel lethargic towards the idea of preparing a well-researched document. This will highlight that you hate reading about things or giving presentations. So, look into what you are avoiding and that might just lead you to your weak spots.
  • Investigate the Feedback That You Get. A great place to identify your weaknesses is the performance review that you get from your boss. It will be better if you can recall a few reviews from the past to see if there is a trend worth noticing. If you see that different bosses have said the same thing about you that you need to work on, chances are that you have just found your weakness. It might be that your bosses have complained about your punctuality at work, signaling an issue with time management.
  • Talk To the Critical Friends. I have always enjoyed the company of those who are critical with me and do not sugar coat facts to make them less difficult to digest. While being straightforward might be considered rude, it is important to get in touch with a colleague or a friend who is rather blunt and ask them for their opinion about you. Such an honest, unafraid and trustworthy person will help you identify what is not working for you.
  • Look Past the Jokes. One of my friends has a habit of joking about something that he does not like in a person. I think it is his way of venting out the displeasure while staying acceptable in the society. Therefore, if you are being joked at with humor at work about how you miss deadlines, there might very well be some truth in there that your colleagues are trying to tell you. What might seem rude of your colleagues can be their way of gently giving you a feedback.
  • Know Your Past Failures. No path is all rosy – we all have our struggles and we all go through our own failures. What is important is that these failures do not keep on repeating. Therefore, look at your past failures and find ways of not repeating them. Investigate why they happened in the first place and what you could do to ensure it never happened in the first place. You should also not just visualize what could have been and should rather take actions to ensure such failures do not play on repeat. Remember that we all have our weaknesses and our fair share of failures. You just need to do all that you to make your weakness insignificant and if possible, non-existent.

Here is a list of weaknesses that you may discover about yourself:

  • Aggression
  • Arrogance
  • Bossiness
  • Chaotic
  • Close-mindedness
  • Complaining Nature
  • Cynicism
  • Fearfulness
  • Greediness
  • Hesitation
  • Ignorance
  • Impatience
  • Indifference
  • Insensitiveness
  • Intolerance
  • Laziness
  • Mistrustfulness
  • Moodiness
  • Obstructiveness
  • Passiveness
  • Pessimism
  • Recklessness
  • Rudeness
  • Selfishness
  • Shallowness
  • Shortsightedness
  • Shyness
  • Sloppiness
  • Stubbornness
  • Strictness
  • Untidiness
  • Vagueness
  • Wastefulness

Focusing on Strengths or Controlling Your Weaknesses?

While it might seem like a good idea to just focus on polishing your strengths and outsourcing the tasks that you are weak at to others, I believe that facing your weaknesses can help you truly grow as a person. Even minor improvements on your weaknesses can be much more significant than getting stronger in your strengths. This is because there is a lot more conviction behind facing your shortcomings and becoming a better version of you and this will definitely improve your overall quality of life. The level of confidence that you can get from improving on your weaknesses can be fantastic for you. Your colleagues will also tend to notice an improvement in you more than how better you have become in something that you were already very good at.

Rising Above Your Weaknesses to Become a Strong Leader

It is easier to work on your strengths but to be a great example for others and to truly become a good leader, you will need to identify your challenge areas and see what you can do to make them not so challenging anymore. If you can actually work on improving yourself in things you fear the most, you can very well become a great leader. Being able to take your weaknesses head on will show that you really are competent and ruthless with things that try to keep you down. People will take notice and respect you for the effort, even if you fall short and you have to get up again, as long as you get up again.

While a good leader can be great at some things, they are never worthless in others. They have to be as I put it, a jack-of-all-trades and a master of a few. To be a leader, you cannot have any weakness – you only have things you are good at and things that you are very good at.

You might want to overcome your greatest challenges in the following ways to lead from the front and set an example for others:

  1. Some leaders do not like to make a case for an idea. This is usually due to the lack of analytical thinking. Simply ask yourself what issue does a specific idea solve and/or what benefits are there of a specific idea. Do not worry about creating a lengthy document – just be honest and clear in your communication.
  2. If it is details that haunt you, you most probably are not a fan of structural thinking. To counter this, you should focus on five steps further than you initially planned. Ask yourself all the contingencies that anyone will need to know regarding an idea.
  3. It might be that you do not think much about the ramifications a decision has on others, meaning that you lack a natural inclination for good social thinking. You will need to work on how you can get consensus for an idea from customers, shareholders and employees before going ahead. You should also ask you how this decision would affect you.
  4. You cannot call yourself a conceptual thinker if you do not naturally think big. You will have to focus more on brainstorming how an idea connects to another and consider all the ramifications that might be there a year or two or even five down the road.
  5. Those of you who are naturally quiet will benefit from setting a time to express yourself. It is important to convey your thoughts and emotions. Find the courage to be expressive and just share your thoughts. You can start bit by bit each day and see how it goes.
  6. If you are like me, a natural peacekeeper, you might be intimidating with the thought of pushing your ideas. However, you do not always have to be moved around with what others are thinking. At the same time, you do not have to be so bossy that you end up bowling over others. Build a consensus and move forward together, if possible.

So there you have it; my 2 cents on how you can identify your personal weaknesses and what you can do to transform them into your strengths. As long as you have self-belief and a desire to improve, you will make it. Let me know in the comments section if you have a personal weakness that you have overcome.  Additionally, do check out our blog post on How to Answer the Question “What is Your Biggest Weakness?” – Like a Pro and How to Receive Negative Feedback, Without Being Defensive.

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