Recently, I was speaking with a client regarding the challenges she was encountering in her job. My client began to reflect on how her greatest strengths seemed to flip to also become her greatest weaknesses. I have thought about this before (and experienced this myself) so yes, this made sense to me. But I wondered aloud to her: What would happen if we flipped that around? Could it be that her greatest strengths might actually lie in the center of her weaknesses? What if she saw her weaknesses as the portal from which to encounter her strengths?
One of the clearest examples of this I have ever encountered was with a former supervisor. In his previous workplace Gary (not his real name) was known as a barracuda, a power monger, perhaps even a bully. Gary knew power in all its forms; he understood its texture, its nuances, he knew it so well he could taste it. Slowly and over time (through workshops and through the courage of some people who could speak boldly to him) Gary came to realize that his use of power was killing the people around him. By the time Gary came to my place of work he had transformed his use of power to the degree that he was and continues to be one of the most empowering people I have ever met. Gary’s perceived weakness (a misuse of power) was in fact the portal through which he encountered his greatest gift: To know power so well – in all its forms – so as to be able to empower others. To throw away all that knowledge of power would not only have been a loss, it would have denied that which was core to Gary’s personality. It would also have denied those of us around him his gift of empowerment.
So I wonder, what are your weaknesses? What gift might be lying there for you among them?