SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
If this were a perfect world, you would be great at everything you did, which in the end, would lead to a very successful life. This would also mean that you would have the perfect body, be debt-free, and win the lottery every time you played. But here in this imperfect world, we all have to deal with the fact that there are things we are great at, okay at, and straight suck at.
For many, this can be very frustrating, because you want to be good at everything. Matter of fact, you believe you HAVE to be good at everything you do just to be successful. But in reality, no one is good at everything they want to be good at.
So instead of looking at your weaknesses as flaws, you should embrace them for what they are and turn them into your greatest strengths.
1. Identify Your Weaknesses
You can not turn your weaknesses into strengths if you do not know what your weaknesses are, so first discover them. This process requires you to be honest with yourself. Once you know your weaknesses, only then can you start finding ways to overcome them and make them into strengths.
For example, one of my weaknesses was acceptance. This one time I did horrible on a test where I received a 56%. After I got my results back, I dwelled on the fact that I had failed for about a week. The time I spent thinking about my failures could have been spent studying so I could do better on the next test.
As of today, I have learned to deal with that weakness and accepted the fact that I am not the best test taker. To overcome it, I realized I need to do is spend an extra amount of time studying to achieve my goals. Because I learned to deal with one of my weaknesses, I ended up getting 85% on the next test I took.
During this process of self-reflection, it can be helpful to talk to trusted friends and family members to get an outside perspective. Take their opinions into account as you determine what is holding you back from achieving your full potential.
2. Every Weakness Has a Corresponding Strength
In How to Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths, by David Kerpen, he discusses how to view your weaknesses as strengths. I found the activity very insightful, so I thought I would share it with you as well:
Think about your weaknesses at school, work, and even life in general. What are some things that you absolutely cannot stand about yourself? Here is a list of some weaknesses, choose the three that most relate to you.
After you choose your three weaknesses, don’t ponder them for too long. Next, look at the list below, and find the same three weaknesses you choose, and look to the right at the traits of your three biggest weaknesses to find the corresponding strength:
Hidden within every weakness are your strengths, sometimes you have to look at them from a new perspective. As you work on improving your weaknesses, don't discount the strengths that you already have. The best leaders always find methods to turn their weaknesses into their greatest strengths.
3. Get Advice From Others
Many weaknesses do not have to be overcome alone. It can be helpful to get advice from others who have more experience or even just a different perspective or approach. Getting more information before making a choice is always a good idea.
When living in the dorms, my roommate was very different from me. I liked to keep my room neat, clean, and organized, while she enjoyed a messy, dirty, and unorganized room. Instead of confronting her and telling her how it bothered me, I bottled it up and dealt with it for as long as I could. That’s when I decided to seek advice, I talked to my mother about how I should go about telling my roommate to clean her room.
It was the right decision to seek advice because my mother gave me some tips on how to approach the situation without being rude and if it was not for her help, I would be stranded in a messy room. Sometimes you need advice on certain situations and you should never feel ashamed to ask for help. Many people have gone through the same struggles that you are dealing with now, and they have overcome them and so can you with the help of others.
This especially applies when you start working in your career. Always be on the lookout for good mentors that can advise you to do your job better. Chances are that someone at the company will have had experience with some things you are working on and can provide some new methods that can make you a more efficient and productive worker.
4. Find People to Fill Skill Gaps
Instead of trying to do something that you know you’re not the best at, consider hiring someone to fulfill the skills that you might lack. For example, if your air conditioner is broken do not try and fix it yourself if you have no knowledge in air conditioner systems at all, instead hire someone to come and fix it that way the job is done correctly and efficiently. Besides compensating for your weakness, this will help you build up an important skill you need-- finding people or employees you can trust and then delegating to them. Jobs that you might not fully understand, can be completed by someone who has the right skills to get the job done.
If you are lacking a skill, you are not the only one. There are plenty of people out there that share the same weaknesses as you. Many successful companies have come about because they needed help in a certain area. So try and think about ways you can help both yourself and others compensate for your deficiency. Sometimes your mutual weaknesses and strengths can compensate for one another and your efforts combined could lead to a very successful outcome. Two heads are better than one.
5. Seek to Improve Your Skills
You can’t change what you were born with, but you can change how you perform it. Instead of spending all your time wishing you were good at something, spend time actually practicing and improving your skills. The more time and energy you spend on something, the better you will become. There is no growth in the comfort zone! If you want to improve at something, look for opportunities to practice and learn the skill. Hate public speaking? Volunteer to make a presentation at a business meeting. Anti-Social? Try and meet a new person every day and learn their names. Only by forcing yourself into challenging positions will you be able to apply the skills you want to learn and increase your ability.
When you invest all your time in an activity, the only direction you can go in is up! You might find it difficult at first, but don't give up and don't delay. It all starts with the time you chose to invest in it today. You can do anything you put your mind to!
Instead of trying to change your weaknesses, accept them for what they are, embrace your strengths, and build upon them. It is too difficult to try and change them so instead use your weaknesses to your advantage. After doing the above activites, you are now able to see your corresponding strength in your weakness. All your weaknesses got you to this point in your life, and that’s a sign that maybe it’s not your weakness after all.
Check out this article about embracing your soft skills in life for additional readings.