Become expert at identifying your own weaknesses
We live in a society that promotes the cult of self-esteem. Anything goes as long as we feel great about ourselves, or so we're led to think. Believing we may have flaws is a big no-no and certain to have a negative impact on our success.
To my mind, this kind of thinking is just silly.
Believing we are superhuman and without fault is just asking for trouble and mediocrity. If you find you have trouble doing things because you don't believe enough in your abilities, then work on improving your abilities, not your self-image. The better your skills are, the more successful you're likely to be. Self-esteem comes naturally after this.
And if you're going to work on improving your abilities, you should prioritize so your efforts bring maximum benefit. The best way to do this is to work on your weaknesses first. And to do that you'll have to get good at spotting your own flaws.
This is not easy to do. People tend to over-estimate their aptitude in a number of areas. We like to concentrate on doing what we're good at, and sweeping the rest under the carpet. That's why you so often meet people who are geniuses in one area, but dunces in another. Think of the brilliant scientists who are socially inept.
So spend some time regularly and honestly examining yourself to pinpoint your flaws. Look for faults and weaknesses that are badly affecting your happiness. Sometimes it helps to write them down or ask someone else. It can also be a big help to look at areas in your life where you're being ineffective.
- Do you tend to have bad relationships and get into disagreements a lot? Then you probably have weak interpersonal skills.
- Are you always broke and in debt? Then your financial skills could probably do with some work.
- Is your career doing badly? If so it's probably time to build up your occupational skills.
- Are you an emotional wreck? Your emotional resilience probably needs some improvement.
- And so on.
Of course, this isn't easy. Being honest enough with ourselves to admit our faults - and believe me, we all have some big ones - is very difficult. And improving in areas we're weak at can be very difficult - the equivalent of trying to lift something with muscles we haven't used much.
Once you've identified your faults, make a conscious effort to improve on them. Make a plan, either in your head or on paper, for turning those weaknesses into strengths.
Being brave enough to undertake this task can make a huge difference to the amount of satisfaction you get out of life. And improving is only difficult in the beginning. Usually, after I've undertaken this task, I look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Like everything, taking steps to improve your abilities in a particular area becomes easier with time.
Concentrating on only further improving what you're already good at is likely to lead you to having a distorted personality and skillset. This will almost certainly cause you problems. Rather than limiting your strengths to only a few, expand them to be many. Stretch yourself by putting your improvement effort where you will receive the biggest rewards.
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