In my Martial Arts academy, we teach sparring. It’s usually considered an advantage in our style to be tall – taller people have long legs, so they have more reach and can often kick their opponent before their opponent reaches them. But, if you can get around their legs, their height becomes a weakness. Taller people tend to be easy to get off balance and if you get “inside” you can hit them with a punch or hand technique, and their legs are too long to kick you away.
In business, large companies have a lot of power – they have large advertising budgets, nationwide distribution networks, bargaining power, research teams and analysts at their disposal. But their strength is also their weakness. By necessity they have bureaucracies to manage day-to-day operations. If they want to make a change, they have to spend a lot of time and money re-training everyone in the company. They can get rooted in an “old” way of doing things and be blindsided by changes in culture or technology. And in the age of cell phone video, as United Airlines has recently experienced, if you have one series of unfortunate PR events, the whole company is damaged.
I think it’s helpful to remember this because it’s useful to consider the downsides of your strengths, not so you go through life second guessing yourself, but so you can avoid being your own worst enemy. Maybe you’re someone who is energized by new projects or ideas, but you have a hard time following through to the end. You can acknowledge and address this potential liability by teaming up with people who will help you follow through, or you can structure your career or activities to be focused on starting new things. Maybe you’re someone who’s really good at seeing the potential risks of a new venture, but you tend to get analysis paralysis and delay taking actions. Your strength can hold you back if you don’t recognize it and find a way to move forward.
I hope this idea helps you think about your strengths and not be held back by the weaknesses that accompany them!
Also – I feel like it wouldn’t count as a Motivation Monday without a clip from an animated movie, so here’s a fun illustration of this idea from Kung Fu Panda