This is the fourteenth piece in our twenty-part series on how to accelerate your career in your twenties and this time we’re talking about weaknesses. We all have them. Most of us are happy to talk about our strengths, but weaknesses are something that most of us would rather forget. The thing is, that can actually be counterproductive when it comes to getting on in your career. Knowing your strengths is important, but it could be argued that knowing your limitations and weaknesses is even more vital. Here’s why…
Knowing when you can make a difference
Over the course of this series of articles we’ve talked about the importance of standing out from the crowd and taking risks when you’re young. It’s good to get noticed and learn from your mistakes, but you should also think about the needs of the company and where your time is best spent. There are things that you will learn over the course of your career that will turn many of your weaknesses into strengths, but there are also things you might naturally struggle with. That’s okay. Some people aren’t very good at public speaking. Others struggle with technology. While it’s important to be flexible and go out of your comfort zone when you feel you can make a difference, you should also be aware of when you may not be able to make a difference and be honest about it - with your colleagues, and with yourself.
Earning the respect of your colleagues
By showing honesty and discipline, and not fearing your weaknesses, you will no doubt earn the respect of your colleagues. Instead of taking on an important project that you know you’re not suited to, be open about it and recommend a colleague who is suited. They’ll be grateful for your confidence in them and the opportunity you’ve passed on, and your boss will respect your honesty and willingness to put the business first.
Turning a negative into a positive
In an earlier piece in this series we talked about failure not necessarily being a negative thing. The same can be said of our weaknesses. We can all excel at something, but that success comes at a cost. We can’t be good at everything all the time - we have to pick and choose where to focus our time and energy to become experts in one or two areas. Start carving out this niche for yourself as early as you can in your career. Figure out your strengths. They may be obvious, but you may need to try a few things or even speak to your manager about where they think your strengths lie. Once you’ve figured that out, focus on playing to your strengths and making a difference.
Knowing your weaknesses isn’t weak. It’s a strength in and of itself, and one that will serve you and those around you extremely well throughout your career.