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How to Identify Weaknesses and 5 Steps to Overcome Them

Everyone has weaknesses. Whether you’re a neuroscientist, athlete, plumber, student, or something else, it’s fair to say that there are areas in which you excel, and others that you struggle with. However, weaknesses aren’t always so obvious. Sometimes we gloss over the areas in which we lack, but the ability to identify weaknesses is critical to improving these areas and overall performance. In this article, I’ll help you answer the question, “What is my weakness?” Once you’ve recognized where you can improve, we’ll cover the tools to overcome weakness, no matter what it is.

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How to Identify Weaknesses

As you begin to identify weaknesses, it’s important to be objective. Acknowledging flaws and limitations can feel uncomfortable, and it’s easy to shy away from the task. But you will only succeed in improving when you’re honest with yourself. Try to work through the following activities with curiosity rather than shame or embarrassment.

1. Make a List

Split a piece of paper in half by drawing a line down the middle. Label one side “strengths” and the other “weaknesses.” Start with strengths, listing all the things you’re good at that contribute to your success in business. You might write technical skills, like project management, as well as social skills, like name recall. Then move on to your weaknesses.

If you struggle to think of any, you can use your strengths list to figure it out. What skills are missing from your strengths? Why haven’t you included them? Are they weaknesses? Ask yourself what skills are necessary for your business to thrive - are you good at all of them, or is there room for improvement in some areas?

2. Keep a Journal

Life is fast-paced, so it can be hard to simply sit down and reflect on what’s working well and what isn’t. Take a couple of weeks and keep a daily journal. Write down your thoughts and actions for the day. Ask yourself what went well and what didn’t. This shouldn’t take you more than five minutes each day.

At the end of the two weeks, read back through what you wrote. What common issues jump out at you? Did you consistently struggle with a specific task? Did something take you longer than it should have? This could be a sign that the skill itself is a weakness or that you struggle with time management. Perhaps you notice that you were in a bad mood most days - that could signify that your weakness is remaining positive. If you’re not seeing any weaknesses pop out, try asking a trusted friend to review the journal and give you feedback. You might be surprised by what they notice.

3. Consider Failed Hobbies

You can draw on your past experience to identify weaknesses, as well. Ask yourself what projects or hobbies you’ve struggled with. Which ones drained your energy and took far longer than they should have? Are there any tasks or projects that you needed assistance from others with on more than one occasion?

On the flip side, you can try out new hobbies to identify weaknesses. You might go for something creative, like a painting class, or active, like an indoor rock climbing session. Take note if you pick up the new skill easily. Whether or not you’re good at the hobby itself, you might notice other weaknesses. Perhaps you get frustrated easily, you talk yourself out of trying new things, or you struggle to connect with others in the class.

4. Ask Trusted Friends and Family

The people you spend extensive time with, whether at work at home, know you best. They’re also more likely to be honest with you about your weaknesses. Of course, some family members might think you can do no wrong, and they aren’t the right people to ask. Instead, seek out people whose opinions you trust and value. Try to make a list of at least three people.

Reach out to the people on your list and ask them to schedule a phone call or a coffee date. Be clear with them that you’re trying to improve your business by identifying weaknesses. When they understand that you’re looking for real feedback, they’ll provide it. Ask for examples so you can get a clear idea of why they hold certain opinions. Compare their thoughts to what you believe your weaknesses are, and see if they confirm your own opinions.

5 Ways to Overcome Weakness

So - what is my weakness? By this point, you should have an answer or two to this question. What should you do now?

1. Make a Plan

Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, it’s time to buckle down and get strategic. Make a professional development plan. Look for opportunities that will foster your growth. Set small goals to help build your confidence and be sure to create a timeline to keep you moving toward improvement.

Avoid setting big lofty goals, as they’re harder to define and you might struggle to track your progress. For example, rather than saying “I want to be a better communicator” you’d say, “I’m going to learn better communication skills by reading the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Then, I’m going to set a goal to consistently check in three key business contacts on a weekly basis.”

2. Get Guidance

Look for a mentor who excels in the skill you’re struggling with. If you want to work on your web design skills, find a web designer who can teach you a few things. You might reach out to one personally or find a course on a website like Skillshare. If you want to work on creating better foundational business practices and time management, you might hire a business coach like myself. Seek out those experts who can fast-track your success to overcome weakness.

3. Delegate

While you can overcome any weakness, you should also consider the cost. If managing your business finances drains your energy and affects the other areas of your business, you might be better off delegating. Hiring a bookkeeper can take a huge weight off your mental load so you can focus on your strengths. Overcome weakness where you can, but recognize where outsourcing certain skills can actually improve your overall business performance.

4. Accept Imperfection

It’s easy to get frustrated as you work on improving a weakness. We often expect ourselves to be perfect, so when we deliver less-than-ideal results, we want to give up entirely. Accept that perfection is not real. “Good enough” is better than spending double the time trying to make it perfect.

5. Get a Support Network

Share your professional development plan with others. Find a small support network to discuss your weaknesses with. Let them know why and how you’re trying to improve. They’ll be your biggest cheerleaders. Plus, they’ll also hold you accountable if you start slacking. Sometimes, simply knowing that others are watching can force you into action. By sharing your plan outside of yourself, it becomes real.

There you have it: you can now identify weaknesses and conquer them. Finding a mentor or support network is a vital step if you want to overcome weakness, but it is easier said than done, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or own your own business. That’s why I specialise in helping my clients build the businesses of their dreams. You can read more about my services here or feel free to reach out here.

Resources:

  1. https://articles.bplans.com/how-to-identify-your-strengths-and-weaknesses/
  2. https://high5test.com/identifying-personal-weaknesses/
  3. https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-overcome-a-weakness-gain-confidence-in-your-skills
  4. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-overcome-your-weakness
  5. https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/how-the-most-effective-leaders-turn-weaknesses-into-strengths.html
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Mark Vischschoonmaker

I’m Mark Vischschoonmaker

An insightful, reliable and unflappable Sydney business coach.

I’m an award-winning, global top-10 business coach and mentor who specialises in helping business owners gain more structure, profits and sanity in their business life.

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