Overcoming Weakness the Smart Way
strategy strength teamwork warrior spirit weakness
This is a reality in many areas of life. We can be good at a lot of things, but all it takes is one shortcoming to stop us in our tracks. The best we can hope to do is to shore up our weaknesses or ally ourselves with others whose strengths complement our own.
Building a Great Team
Andrew Carnegie was known to be a formidable man, not based on his mastery of his resources, but rather because of all the men he had at his disposal. He surrounded himself with men smarter than he was in areas he needed the support. Thus, when he was faced with a challenge that was greater than his particular strength set, he could rely on friends and allies to carry him though.
Even the greatest superheroes rely on one another on order to overcome their most fearsome adversaries. The X-Men consisted of a team of mutants who worked together to aid each other. Cyclops brought heavy artillery to the table, Wolverine was the fighter, and Jean Grey dealt with the more intellectual challenges. Professor X, their leader, did all the strategizing. On their own, each hero was formidable, but together they were practically unstoppable.
The Justice League is another example of superheroes who teamed up to overcome challenges. Superman was indestructible and immensely strong, but found himself calling on Batman's superior intellect to help him unravel the plots of many villains.
In my own life, I have found that I serve well as the organizer of a group, bringing people together and providing the motivation and inspiration for our actions. I find ways to make things happen and set the group in action. My girlfriend is much better at organizing the logistics - making sure things happen on time and keeping all the data in order. When I try to do her job, bad things happen (or rather, nothing happens, which is the whole problem).
It has taken me some time to understand my role in a group. I used to try to do everything, but found that doing so would only hold the group back. When I accepted what I was good at, my collaborations with others have become much more productive.
Finding What You’re Good At
Of course, in order to implement your strengths, you have to know what they are. Trial and error is one way to figure this out, but it can be tedious and embarrassing. Self-observation is another way; pay attention to the roles you naturally gravitate towards and the things that come most easily to you.
One resource that has helped me find what my role in a group is was the book, Strengthsfinder 2.0. This book focuses on helping people uncover the things they are good at, rather than focusing too much on their weaknesses. It also explains how they can best utilize their strengths in a group setting.
Keeping in mind that your strengths represent both things you're good at and things you enjoy (neither of which may overlap), you still need to keep in mind the importance of developing and honing your skills.
According to Strengthsfiner 2.0, I am naturally inclined to leadership roles. I do enjoy being in those positions, but I still have a lot to learn about the nuances of organizing people. Because I enjoy the experience of leadership, however, I also find the learning process fun and interesting, which hopefully ensures that I will acquire the skills easily and enthusiastically.
Playing To Your Own Strengths
But what do you do when you must rely on your own resources, like in my workout yesterday?
I realized that my problem was that I was not playing to my strengths. Even when dealing with heavy weights, I can still find a way to maximize my endurance and stamina and downplay the strength requirements. In the case of the overhead squats, I realized that I could try to break the sets up into smaller increments, and rest the bar on my back instead of putting it down to rest. In this way, I'd save my strength and lean more heavily on my ability to recharge quickly.
In any life situation, the trick I've discovered is to strategize the best way to focus on your strengths and downplay the importance of your weaknesses. In the military, great generals always look for ways to negate the enemy's strengths and shore up their own weaknesses. If the enemy has greater numbers, a general might force them to attack in a location that prevents them using all their forces at once, as in the battle of Thermopylae (depicted in the movie 300) when a Spartan force held off a massive Persian army by blocking them off in a narrow pass. The Romans frequently relied on unbelievably rapid marching speeds and iron-clad discipline to compensate for their tiny legions, allowing them to maneuver around much larger but poorly organized forces of barbarians.
If you have no other option but to rely on your own abilities, look at a situation and figure out what about it will cause you problems. Then, find a way to negate those aspects of the situation or alter your angle of attack to favor your own strengths.
If you cannot, surround yourself with people who are good at what you're not.
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Fight on, Brave Warriors,