When I was in high school, somebody told me that one’s greatest strength was also their greatest weakness, and vice versa. At first, this idea seemed silly, but that was because I took it too literally. I came to interpret it as: a character trait can be equally good and bad.
Those of you who have read my post Thanksgiving Day might have inferred that I’m a perfectionist. I used to think this was the “inoffensive fault” you acknowledge to look good in interviews. A few years later, it became incapacitating. Now, I can finally see it for what it is: a character trait with its upsides and downsides.
Before I take on any project, I’ll weight it, do research and analyze the odds of my being able to achieve good results. Perfectionism can give me Spartan self-discipline to achieve my goal. If I’m going to do something halfheartedly, I’d rather not do it at all.
Sounds great? Now, apply that to weight loss. No matter how you look at it, dropping 11% of your weight in a month can’t be too healthy. Apply it to saving money. Hello Scrooge!
It also means that I’d rather not start anything if I don’t think I can ace it. I admire those who can dive right in without overthinking anything.
Got my point yet? The problem is that your strong personality traits will creep into everything you do.
Despair not! The good news is coming.
If your greatest quality can become your greatest weakness, the reverse is possible: your greatest weakness can become your greatest quality!
Now, it’s important that you look at it from a personality trait point of view: thinking your greatest weakness is some disease or unfortunate situation will only make you feel miserable. I’m not saying those can’t make you stronger. They can, but then it all comes down to how you deal with them.
It can also be easy to mistake the symptom for the cause. For example, symptoms of my perfectionism are anxiety, insomnia and procrastination. Actually, perfectionism itself is probably a symptom of an even larger issue: I’m too much in my own head.
What should I do?
Identify the weakness and be honest with yourself. It’s easy to fool yourself when it’s agreeable. I used to score almost always INFP at a Myers Briggs personality test. Beautiful personalities, those INFP. For Harry Potter fans, that would be Luna Lovegood. I do believe I’m half INFP. The ugly truth is that my other half is INTJ. That would be Drago Malefoy. In Star Wars, it would be Palpatine. Not quite as shiny, is it?
Now, identify the adverse consequences. See how that could become positive. You’re hyperactive? Good! Focus all that energy of your on something (or several things) that means something to you. You’re aggressive? That’s an awesome quality in the business world.
Work toward keeping your character traits in a healthy range. Everybody’s character traits are somewhere between two extremes, but you can move them a bit. Make them less extreme in strategic areas. How? I have had cognitive behavioural therapy and it helped me tremendously. I also like introspection, i.e. analyzing my behaviour and my thoughts. I also read books on psychology and philosophy.
Can you relate? Is your greatest strength also your greatest fault?
Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.
– Frank Ocean