Risk & Business Magazine Branch Benefits Consultants Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 26

The Freak Factor

Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable , worth listening to , worthy of our trust , sacred to our touch .
-E . E . CUMMINGS

The most common approach to self improvement is to build on strengths and fix weaknesses , usually with special attention to fixing weaknesses . This is prevalent at work where annual appraisals are focused on overcoming our apparent limitations . Similarly , in homes and schools , parents and teachers expect children to excel in all academic subjects , athletic activities and social skills . Those who are lacking in any particular area are confronted with their flaws and given strategies for improvement .

The obvious goal of these remediation efforts is to foster success by producing well-rounded people . However , do these efforts really work and is being wellrounded a worthy or realistic goal ? My experience as an individual , professor , parent and leader indicates that efforts to fix weaknesses are ineffective . Furthermore , I believe that the goal of being well-rounded is both undesirable and impossible to attain . So what is the alternative ? In this article I ’ ll share a four-step process for getting better by embracing your weaknesses and amplifying them , instead of fixing them .
AWARENESS - WEAKNESSES ARE IMPORTANT CLUES TO OUR STRENGTHS
“ We are led to truth by our weaknesses as well as our strengths .”
-PARKER PALMER , LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK
Each of us has unique characteristics . These characteristics have both positive and negative features . These features , which we usually refer to as strengths and weaknesses , cannot be separated . They come in pairs . The positive and negative elements are inextricably linked .
This claim may seem outrageous and that is why I created the chart below . It lists 16 strengths and their corresponding weaknesses . Do any of these resonate with you ? Have you seen these pairs in your own life or the lives of friends , co-workers or employees ?
STRENGTH Creative Organized Dedicated Flexible Enthusiastic Calm Reflective Adventurous Responsible Positive Realistic Assertive Humble Self-Confident Patient Passionate
WEAKNESS Unorganized Inflexible Stubborn Inconsistent Obnoxious Emotionless Shy Irresponsible Boring Unrealistic Negative Intimidating Weak Arrogant Indecisive Impatient
Unfortunately , instead of seeing a weakness as natural and unavoidable consequence of its corresponding strength , we see weakness as a problem to be eliminated . Our efforts to eliminate weakness are doomed to fail because any characteristic has particular advantages and disadvantages .
ACCEPTANCE - APPARENT WEAKNESSES ARE STRENGTHS IN DISGUISE
“ Strong people always have strong weaknesses too . Where there are peaks , there are valleys .”
-PETER DRUCKER
When I ask students and seminar participants if they should fix weaknesses , build strengths or do both , most choose to do both . However , there are a number of problems with this approach . Most importantly , since weaknesses and strengths are linked , attempting to fix a weakness can actually diminish the corresponding strength . This fact is best illustrated by the discount retail industry .
Walmart ’ s main strength is low prices and its weaknesses include poor quality merchandise , long lines and unhelpful employees . On the other hand , Target ’ s main strengths are higher quality products from well-known designers , attractive stores and helpful associates who are quick to open a new checkout lane . Unfortunately , Target ’ s weakness is that its prices are not as low as those at Walmart .
So , what would happen if Walmart tried to do both ? What if they tried to build on their strengths and fix their weaknesses ? What would happen to their low prices , their primary strength , as they added better products and extra employees at the registers ? The answer is simple , their prices would climb , thus diminishing their strength .
Similarly , what if Target decided to fix their weakness by lowering prices ? What would happen to the level of customer service and the great products that give them their advantage if they focused more on cost cutting ? Again , the answer is straightforward , their quality and service would decrease , thus diminishing their strength .
If you don ’ t believe me , just look at Kmart . Kmart provides an illustration of what happens when a company , or individual ,
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The Freak Factor Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. T -E.E. CUMMINGS he most common approach to self improvement is to build on strengths and fix weaknesses, usually with special attention to fixing weaknesses. This is prevalent at work where annual appraisals are focused on overcoming our apparent limitations. Similarly, in homes and schools, parents and teachers expect children to excel in all academic subjects, athletic activities and social skills. Those who are lacking in any particular area are confronted with their flaws and given strategies for improvement. The obvious goal of these remediation efforts is to foster success by producing well-rounded people. However, do these efforts really work and is being well- rounded a worthy or realistic goal? My experience as an individual, professor, parent and leader indicates that efforts to fix weaknesses are ineffective. Furthermore, I believe that the goal of being well-rounded is both undesirable and impossible to attain. So what is the alternative? In this article I’ll share a four-step process for getting better by embracing your weaknesses and amplifying them, instead of fixing them. AWARENESS - WEAKNESSES ARE IMPORTANT CLUES TO OUR STRENGTHS “We are led to truth by our weaknesses as well as our strengths.” -PARKER PALMER, LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK Each of us has unique characteristics. These characteristics have both positive and negative features. These features, which we usually refer to as strengths and 26 weaknesses, cannot be separated. They come in pairs. The positive and negative elements are inextricably linked. This claim may seem outrageous and that is why I created the chart below. It lists 16 strengths and their corresponding weaknesses. Do any of these resonate with you? Have you seen these pairs in your own life or the lives of friends, co-workers or employees? STRENGTH WEAKNESS Creative Unorganized Organized Inflexible Dedicated Stubborn Flexible Inconsistent Enthusiastic Obnoxious Calm Emotionless Reflective Shy Adventurous Irresponsible Responsible Boring Positive Unrealistic Realistic Negative Assertive Intimidating Humble Weak Self-Confident Arrogant Patient Indecisive Passionate Impatient “Strong people always have strong weaknesses too. Where there are peaks, there are valleys.” -PETER DRUCKER When I ask students and seminar participants if they should fix weaknesses, build strengths or do both, most choose to do both. However, there are a number of problems with this approach. Most importantly, since weaknesses and strengths are linked, attempting to fix a weakness can actually diminish the corresponding strength. This fact is best illustrated by the discount retail industry. Walmart’s main strength is low prices and its weaknesses include poor quality merchandise, long lines and unhelpful employees. On the other hand, Target’s main strengths are higher quality products from well-known designers, attractive stores and helpful associates who are quick to open a new checkout lane. Unfortunately, Target’s weakness is that its prices are not as low as those at Walmart. So, what would happen if Walmart tried to do both? What if they tried to build on their strengths and fix their weaknesses? What would happen to their low prices, their primary strength, as they added better products and extra employees at the registers? The answer is simple, their prices would climb, thus diminishing th Z\[ [ܝ[][K[XYوYZ[BXZۙ\\]\[[[]YXBۜ\]Y[Hو]ܜ\ۙ[œ[ HYHXZۙ\\H؛[BH[[Z[]Y \Yܝ[[Z[]BXZۙ\\HYYZ[X]\H[B\X\\X\\X[\Y[Y\˜[\Y[Y\ˈ[Z[\K]Y\]XYY^Z\XZۙ\H\[X\][\[H][و\Y\\XH[HܙX]X]]B[HZ\Y[YHY^H\Y[ܙHۈ][YZ[H[\\œZYܝ\ Z\]X[]H[\XB[XܙX\K\[Z[\[Z\[ PTSH HTTSPRӑTTTHSSTRTHY[H۸&][Y]HYK\]X\ X\ݚY\[[\][ۈو]\[[H\[K܈[]YX[