Only a few weeks ago I was in Malaysia doing simultaneous interpretation – English – Spanish/Spanish – English for WUF9, a huge international event organized by the UN. I never thought working on one’s weaknesses was so profitable.
Then, the day after coming back to Bangkok, I was doing a voice over for a PR/marketing campaign for a huge Thai company with international business presence. Again, unintended positive consequences of addressing weaknesses when we are aware of them.
Every time I do this sort of jobs I can’t but laugh about myself.
Two of My Biggest Insecurities
Mexico is a place where being bilingual is still a rarity. Until I was 21, I thought being bilingual was a superhuman accomplishment not available to a mere mortal like myself.
In class, every time my English teacher asked an open question, I would try to melt on my chair and pray for invisibility so the teacher didn’t direct the question to me. Most of the time, I remained visible long enough to make an idiot out of myself either answering wrong, or becoming unable to speak.
As for reading out loud, I had 3 problems.
First one, I was shy and insecure, so I kept making mistake after mistake. Second, I didn’t like my voice. I found it high pitched and annoying. It probably still is, but my clients differ.
And third, no matter how hard I tried, my voice just wasn’t powerful. I felt I couldn’t breathe deep enough, as if I had been born without a “preamplifier” inside my body.
So I had my reasons when I thought I’d never be able to master a second language, let alone a third one. Using them to make top dollars interpreting for UN events? Not a chance.
And the idea of getting my voice requested by hundreds of companies from around the world to “Read Out Loud” and represent their products and services? Well that was such an outlandish idea that never even crossed my mind!
So, how did I end up reversing what were glaring weaknesses and made them into powerful strengths?
I Worked Obsessively On My Weaknesses
The answer is simple. When I had the opportunity, I worked almost to the point of obsession on what I wasn’t good at.
It didn’t matter how stupid I looked practicing all the weird sounds of the English language, such as the “th” and the “v”. I just didn’t care. People laughed at me and thought I was a try-hard. Today, those guys can’t put together a sentence in a foreign language, even if their lives depended on it.
To “cure” my voice problems I developed and practiced my Movement Method, which strengthened my respiratory system and freed my diaphragm, sternum and intercostals. It was a weakness that took me 10 years to resolve.
To overcome my insecurity of reading out loud I worked tirelessly on “being present”, a form of continuous meditation, that helps to reduce anguish and stress.
Now, I am stating the obvious here. If we are not good at something, we should work at it until we become good. It is a no-brainer, isn’t it?
Well, it turns out it isn’t. We are complex, contradictory beings, that like doing what we are good at, while avoiding those things that we suck at. Sounds natural? Not to me.
This applies to every aspect of life, and I don’t need to go far from my daily environment to see it: the gym.
There I see the same people doing the same things they “like” (they like everything they are good at), over and over, while avoiding every exercise that exposes their weaknesses.
Wasn’t the gym a place to get strong and resilient? It was, but our big egos don’t let us see how glaringly short-sighted we are.
Instead we become weaker and weaker by ignoring the areas where there are more opportunities.
Working on weaknesses make us overall stronger. Working on our strengths make us weaker and weaker.
Why do we behave in such way? Because our pride demands us to do so.
Accepting weakness make us feel awkward. It reminds us of our vulnerability. It somehow makes us feel inadequate, or worse, pathetic and stupid.
False Guilt Won’t Resolve Our Weaknesses
Most people will go on with this irrational denial and making up with the typical “I know I should be doing something about my ___________ (insert any weakness in the space), as if they were robots, victims of their “factory” settings.
Is that what we have become? A bunch of liars and whiners that can’t confront reality because we are afraid of not being “cool” enough?
Who told us that we have to be good at everything by hiding our weaknesses?And more so, do we really understand all the opportunities of growth we are missing in life just because of cowardice?
I have personally find joy and well being every time I dared to become a beginner, again, and again.
Just a bit of self-esteem and curiosity is needed to grow in aspect unforeseen from wherever we are personally, emotionally, intellectually, etc. We won’t know all we don’t know, if we don’t dare to question what we know, and expose ourselves to the unknown.
There is no reason to pretend to not have weakness. Show your weaknesses to yourself and to the world. Don’t be afraid of feeling or being ridiculed. Those who criticize your efforts are quietly envying your courage. Haters will always hate, leave them rejoicing in their own pool of mediocrity and self-indulgence.
The Benefits of Dropping the Ego to Address Weaknesses
At risk of repeating myself, I will say it again: working on your weaknesses makes you wholesome. Being wholesome, makes your powerful. You may want to read the farse the ego is.
Your strengths will be there, waiting for you, and probably being enhanced, while you are addressing your weaknesses. So, you end up polifacetic and better suited for challenges to come.
You become humble. Instead of portraying yourself as a “paper” superhero, you recognize and value your humanity. You accept yourself and by doing so, you develop empathy towards others.
So How to Start Working On Your Weaknesses?
This one is easy. First, identify them, but I guess you know them well already.
Your weaknesses are having a pleasant picnic in the garden of your fears. Playing with those things you decided you hate or dislike long ago. Hidden between your ego and the bucket list you never intend to clear.
Then accept them and accept yourself. Just be humble and have some sense of humour when you look at yourself on the mirror. Learn to laugh at yourself and zap the opportunities of your vulnerability.
Take lesson of the very things you are afraid of, or you suck at. Be uncomfortable, welcome chaos, try to control less. Take a ride on the wild side.
In the gym? Exercise your weakest muscles, do the exercises you hate. Pursue pain and burn. Go slow, deliberate. Take rest days without feeling guilty. Rehab your old injuries. Prepare your joints for future efforts. Don’t go to exercise just for fun, make yourself bulletproof!.
In the kitchen? Eat what you know is good for you. You aren’t a 4 years old kid that can’t control her inner reactions. Be an adult, and ingest what you have to, in order to achieve what you want. Say no to all the crap food around you.
In life? Dance, laugh out loud, make new friends, try new activities. Choose the one that makes your heart skip three beats only by thinking about them.
But above all, don’t take yourself seriously. This world is a playground. Enjoy it.