Weakness. Just the word can make you grimace. Go into any group of people: young, old, male, female, American, or foreign and ask, “Who wants to be known as weak?” Not one person will raise their hand. Yet, every one of those people has weaknesses.
It’s inevitable. You can’t only have strengths. It’s the law of natural ability: For every strength there is an opposing weakness.
Talkers have a hard time listening, introverts have a hard time initiating relationships, people with high energy have a hard time sitting still. I can’t think of a single strength that doesn’t create an opposing weakness.
Why then do we have this aversion to weakness? Why is it when someone points out a weakness of ours that we automatically feel inferior, like we should possess that trait as a strength? Why can’t we look at them and say, “You are correct, that isn’t one of my strengths” and feel good about it?
I think social norms come into play here. The groups we spend time in come up with a mold or stereotype they believe are worthy of praise. Typically the awards go to high achievers, people who are gregarious and outspoken, or people who are in the limelight- whatever that group determines the limelight to be.
Mainly, I think it is due to a lack of understanding of the law of natural ability. People actually expect themselves to measure up to the stereotypes set before them. A perfect example is our current education system. I am a smart guy. I accomplish almost everything I set my mind to. But look at my grades from high school and college and you would put me in the average to below average range.
In college I performed average in my religion major. There was just so much history involved in that major, and I am terrible about remembering details- which is what was required to pass those tests. I felt like an idiot. I knew I was smart, but I didn’t feel like I was and my grades didn’t support that I was.
My junior year I took a sociology class and loved it. I made it my minor and even took sociology classes as electives because I enjoyed them so much. Suddenly I found myself on the edge of a double major and even wound up in the honor society. No one was more surprised than me!
It turns out that I have a knack for people, process and systems. Those strengths are not conducive for making good grades in high school or in classes that require a lot of detail. But move me into a subject like sociology or counseling that utilizes my strengths and I blow it out of the water.
Here is my point: If your strengths have opposing weaknesses, then your weaknesses also have opposing strengths.
If you run into something you are not good at don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal! In fact, if you look a little deeper you will probably discover one of your strengths keeping you from succeeding in that area.