How embracing your weaknesses can help you advance in your career

Long-term personal development efforts can unlock your full potential and strengthen your skillset

Turning your weaknesses into strengths is necessary for success in business. Alamy
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One of the topics I dreaded most when growing up was, “tell me about your weaknesses”.

As is the case with many people I know, I focused on my strengths and kept my weaknesses to myself.

To me, there was no point in anyone knowing about them — or for me to address them.

“Why do you want to discuss your weak points with others? No one likes a weak entrepreneur,” a friend once said.

When I graduated from university and embarked on my career path, various articles advocated focusing on showing and developing our strengths and to highlight these qualities during job interviews.

But breaking my left arm years ago put my professional weaknesses into perspective for me.

I am left-handed and depend on it for everything, from opening a can of soft drink to pushing doors open.

I felt more comfortable carrying shopping bags with my left hand than my right one. When I broke my left arm, I felt my whole world tumble upside down because I had to train myself to use my right arm.

Typing on my phone became a challenging task with one hand and food fell from my spoon because I was not used to holding it in my right hand. Never did I appreciate focusing on working on my weaknesses as I did then.

As my career developed to manage a number of ventures today, I realised that by focusing only on our strengths — and overlooking our weaknesses — could seriously hinder a person's career path.

Embracing my weaknesses and dedicating time to developing them has helped me to add more qualities to my “strengths' list”.

Let’s say that your professional strength is coming up with innovative product ideas but your weakness is sales.

While focusing on your strengths, which is developing product ideas, you may end up not making enough profit because you don’t know how to sell or follow up on sales leads.

One might say that ignoring our weaknesses may never hinder our success, but in the case of the example above, it would — if a company founder fails to develop their sales skills, their business may never take off.

After I broke my arm, I dedicated time to periodically evaluating my professional skills and paid more attention to my weaknesses.

I realised that the weaknesses I overlooked have been hindering me in more ways than one. If I had worked on developing them sooner, I would have reached my targets faster.

But I didn’t solely depend on my own judgment. I faced the music and asked the question that I had avoided all my life.

I approached entrepreneur friends, my mentor and family members and asked them what they thought my weak points were and how I could be a better entrepreneur.

It was a perspective-altering exercise and perhaps the most crucial personal development task I have undertaken so far. After their constructive feedback, I worked on developing my weaknesses and using them to my advantage.

As important as it is to know our strengths, it is also crucial to know our weaknesses — and to work on developing them.

At the end of the day, the goal of entrepreneurs is to progress and for their businesses to reach new heights.

And this is why long-term personal development efforts should be at the heart of their strategic plans, which will provide the key to unlocking their full potential.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: July 04, 2022, 3:30 AM