Watch enough nature documentaries, and you’re bound to witness an apex predator singling out the sickest and the weakest prey. People seem to have a subconscious fascination with homing in on weaknesses in ourselves and others. Just like how we watch a lion attacks the slowest antelope, we sometimes watch as our self-doubt and negativity rip our dreams apart. We truly are our worst critics.
To be successful, you must resist the urge to focus on deficits and start capitalizing on your strengths.
Constructive feedback and a critical eye are great, but many of us spend too much time beating ourselves up over our faults. We need a paradigm shift. Concerning ourselves only with weaknesses breeds more weakness. Compulsive fault-finding is not an efficient self-improvement strategy.
Instead of spending time criticizing yourself, try to take an objective approach to understanding your personal journey. Performing a SWOT Analysis is a great way to retrain the way you think about yourself.
- S – Strengths. List areas in which you excel. What types of work do you find most rewarding, and what training do you have? If you are not sure about this, think about the types of things that others often ask you to do.
- W – Weaknesses. What types of work do you dread doing? Are there things that you consistently avoid or put off until the last minute? Take note of training and skill deficiencies that you may have.
- O – Opportunities. Name specific ways that you can work to grow. Do you have access to professional help? Can you take courses or get training to make your strengths stand out and overcome your weaknesses?
- T – Threats. Insecurities, physical and mental health, and external forces such as cash flow can threaten your ability to focus and become the best version of yourself.
We all need to take stock of where we are in order to achieve success. Personal SWOT analysis can help us do that without becoming so bogged down in our weaknesses that we forget about all the great things we can do. Below is an example of how a personal SWOT analysis might look for an individual trying to land freelance marketing jobs.
By identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, our imaginary marketer can apply this knowledge to self-improvement and focus on his or her assets while maintaining realistic expectations. Notice that this person’s opportunities didn’t only include possible solutions to weaknesses, but also capitalized on strengths.
Become an asset-based thinker to maximize your strengths.
Develop a growth mindset and recognize that successful people are always striving for improvement. You do have to consider weaknesses, but in some cases, you might be able to delegate tasks that aren’t your strong suit to other people. For example, our freelance marketer who is a whiz at design but awful with social media could learn to navigate various social media platforms. He or she could also outsource the social media work to another person and focus solely on design.
If you take a myopic approach to your life and focus only on weakness, you will only grow in the areas where you have identified a problem. When too much of your focus goes toward problems, you cripple your ability to fully make use of your strengths.
For example, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has delighted fans from many countries around the world. J.K. Rowling, while brilliant, doesn’t speak all 68 languages into which her work has been translated. It wouldn’t be a good use of her time to try to learn all those languages either. It is much more efficient for her to focus on the craft of writing and outsource the translations to many different translators.
Of course, being multi-lingual is an excellent skill, and you shouldn’t be afraid to learn new things. It’s just that sometimes that cost of the skill you need to learn is too high to make it beneficial for you to learn it. Let someone else use their strengths in concert with your own so that you can both be happier and more productive.
Being successful is about working smarter and remembering these 5 things:
1. Identify the things that you want to achieve.
Set goals to define a path for yourself.
You have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. You decide that you would like to run your own business and break away from your 9 to 5 job in the next year.
2. Figure out how your strengths can help you reach your goals.
Those strengths that you defined with your SWOT analysis can serve as a road map for your future.
Perhaps you are a gifted metalworker. You do some research and decide that you should go into business making art from metal. You decide that in the next six months you’d like to pull together the resources to leave your job and be a blacksmith full-time.
3. Focus on the skills that you need grow to develop your strengths.
Instead of stressing out about the things you don’t do well, put most of your energy into refining your unique talents.
Starting your own metalworking business is going to require you to learn some new things. You’ll have to figure out where you can get materials to do this sort of work, and you’ll need to learn how to build up a client base. In addition to practicing your metalworking, you’ll have to spend some time networking. You have to do all of these things so that can afford to grow your metalworking skills.
4. You may encounter obstacles along the way, and that’s when you know which weaknesses to work on first.
Weaknesses that interfere with your ability to achieve your goals need to be tackled head-on. You might do this through acquiring new skill sets or finding a colleague with strengths in areas that challenge you.
Imagine that your business is doing so well that you have to file quarterly taxes. You balk at this because you don’t understand the tax code. Rather than waste time on taxes that you could spend crafting beautiful sculptures with your specialized skills, you hire a CPA. The CPA has a different set of specialized skills and knows how to make sure you comply with tax laws and get the maximum number of deductions.
5. Always focus on enhancing your strengths.
There are things that you can do better than anyone else. If you can find out what those things are, you can spend time working to make your best even better.
You are already excellent at working with one kind of metal. To enhance your strengths, you might practice with different materials or find a mentor who can teach you new techniques. In this case, not knowing how to work with certain types of metal isn’t really a weakness – it’s just untapped potential.
Don’t let yourself drown in deficiencies.
When you dwell on the negative, you don’t give yourself a chance to shine. By becoming an asset-based thinker and appreciating your strengths, you can find success more easily. Instead of going down rabbit-holes to take on work that requires a specialist or beating yourself up over unchangeable aspects of your character, focus on maximizing your talents. Not only will you be more successful, but you’ll be a lot happier too.