While fighting (laying around in a messy heap) with the flu over the holidays, one recurring thought that feverishly echoed in my bones over and over was the role in approaching weakness in my strategy and planning in life, whether it be career, family, social circles, fitness, mental health, etc.
It is a common understanding in self-help circles and in books on entrepreneurship that failure is the greatest opportunity for learning. I have seen this in my own life and I find it to be true.
What is rarely pointed out is that our weaknesses provide a great starting point for developing strategy and refining one’s self-development regimen.
My biggest weakness is that I tire of repetition pretty easily. I’m a sensitive person who thrives in an environment of stimulation.
Repetitive music — like you’d hear in a modern night club — either puts me right to sleep (unless it is in the gym, where it contributes to an overall experience) or annoys me to the point of open crankiness. “Grind-y” video games, such as most MMOs, bore me to tears. I love math, unless it is the same kind of problem over an over for more than a few minutes. Et cetera.
While this may sound like clever bragging, it makes it incredibly hard for me to do important business-y things, like marketing. The heart of a successful marketing campaign is repetition, after all. Successful marketing is the heart of a successful business enterprise. In other words, it’s been a huge problem.
While analyzing my own weakness and weaknesses of others, I stumbled onto some strategy tips that might prove useful to you in building around your own weaknesses:
- Delegate as much as you can. If the task at hand rakes on your last nerve and sucks the joy out of your life’s passion, find ways to get others to fill in the holes. In today’s world, almost anything can be outsourced (see companies like Fiverr or Taskrabbit for examples of companies who connect people with contracted workers for “small” jobs). Of course, budgets and manpower are usually finite, so delegation isn’t always possible. Entrepreneurial rule number one: as long as you have sufficiency in sight (or, better, in hand) don’t be afraid to budget away the work you’re terrible at or hate doing.
- Schedule around your weakness. In my case, repetitious activities can be broken up with careful time management. Chopping up a challenging four hour task into eight or more chunks throughout your day or over the course of a few days can make the task less annoying and progress easier to measure.
- Study your weakness. Understand it fully. If it is something that can be mastered, strike to become a master of it. Turn it into a strength. A friend of mine couldn’t swim and had a crippling fear of water. She became obsessed with turning this weakness into a strength and trained herself to enter water without freaking out (swimming pools first and later the ocean). Then to swim. Then to take boat trips. Now, she surfs whenever she can and is pretty good at it, too. If you have a weakness that can be overcome through training or study, why not attack it head-on?
- Accept your weakness and if you have to grind through it, make a philosophical adjustment so that you allow yourself to push through when it appears as the task at hand. Sometimes, I am faced with a boring, ultra-repetitive task and a deadline. No wiggle room. In this instance, I brew a pot of coffee, make the room as interesting as possible (incense, stimulating music, candles, a spot to sit in and adjust my posture at regular intervals, etc.), roll up my sleeves, and knock it out. Unpleasantness of some sort is a part of everyone’s life. Accepting it and doing what must be done anyway is an essential ingedient for success.
- Fail. Sometimes, a weakness cannot be overcome or planned against and acceptance is impossible. In these cases, let go of your anxiety and just let the enterprise crash. The “worst case scenario” is almost always worse in your head and a good, hearty failure can be a wonderful learning opporunity. In order to learn what is possible, you have to push yourself to your limit. But if you really hit the wall, step aside, learn your lesson, and aim for a new horizon. Not every project works and that’s okay. Succeed or learn, right? Failing to manage weakness can provide opportunities on how to manage them more effectively in the future.
I hope these tips help you to manage your weakness and to address them in your planning steps with future projects. The worst thing you can do it ignore them and hope they go away.
My cat is pestering me to get off the computer, so… I’ll be back with more stuff and soon.
What works for you when dealing with your own weaknesses and limitations?