We live in a society where there’s always someone waiting in the wings to offer us a speedy, surefire remedy for any so-called deficiency in ourselves, writes Sujan Patel for Entrepreneur.
If we’ve been piling on extra pounds, there are a thousand diet regimes, slimming clubs and healthy recipe books shouting out to make us drop a dress size. If we have an uncontrolled spending habit, an inactive lifestyle or a lack of spiritual direction, there’s a quick fix for those too, usually peddled by proficient sellers tuned into our feelings of inadequacy.
This persistent focus on remedying our weaknesses as if they are emergencies not only gives us unrealistic expectations, but it also creates stress that adversely affects our self-esteem both personally and professionally.
Genuine weaknesses can rarely be turned into strengths, and you can’t tackle them all at once. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address the ones that will really make a difference to your life and careers.
LEARN TO PRIORITISE
There are three things you need to consider before seriously investing in tackling a weakness:
1) Cost. How much will it cost you to tackle the weakness – in terms of time, money, commitment and priority – in comparison to other weaknesses?
While setting up his first business, Single Grain, Patel chose to prioritise regaining a healthy lifestyle when he found himself 40 pounds overweight and puffing to climb his office stairs. “Even though it would take a commitment of energy and a compromise in the bandwidth I’d allotted to other projects, the opportunity cost of being unhealthy was too big to ignore.”
2) Importance. How much does reversing this particular weakness really matter to you?
Never a proficient cook, but with no problem eating well in a cosmopolitan city, Patel decided that upping his culinary skills wasn’t a priority. But tackling his fear of public speaking could potentially have a powerful impact. Learning to stand up and talk in front of big crowds to share the ethos of his brands has been a valuable transformation of weakness into strength – in spite of the discomfort and difficulty he felt during the process.
3) Necessity. Could someone else plug the gap with their strengths?
Patel admits having nowhere near the natural sales ability of Single Grain co-founder AJ Kumar: “I used to compare my sales style to his, thinking that mine was weak by comparison. What I eventually came to realise was that not only was my different style of sales working fine for me, but that trying to turn myself into AJ would be a disservice to him.”
Whatever your weaknesses, don’t feel you have to fix them all, and certainly not all at once. Prioritise, one at a time, those you think will really enhance your life and business, and be prepared to invest in reversing them.