Free Self Help Improvement Tips To Prevent The Most Expensive Mistake of Your Life
The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates
Jovan Belcher had it all. He played in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs. But he partied all night on the last night of his life, went home to his girlfriend, and shot her before taking his own life in front of his coach. He left a child without a mother or father.
To be sure, Jovan had so many strengths as a person and a player. Yet he neglected to address his greatest liabilities: his personal weaknesses.
In both our personal and business lives, we need to honestly address our weaknesses.
The strengths movement has revolutionized our thinking about performance in business. But the pendulum can swing to0 far in one direction, to the point that we forget the importance of overcoming our weaknesses.
Furthermore, we must remember that every strength has its weakness.
Put Yourself Out of Business: Or, Fire Yourself
In Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution, Lisa Bodell suggests that any person or company do this exercise:
Imagine that you are your competitor: How will you put yourself out of business? What will be the weaknesses you will exploit in order to put you out of business?
You can do this exercise both from a business as well as a moral standpoint.
If you were to predict how you would fail morally (think David Patreus, or Richard Nixon), how would you fail? What skills need honing? What personality traits need to be addressed? What character issues need to be rectified?
Earlier this year, one of my trainers at work invited me to listen to a phone call I made to a customer.
The call lasted about 30 minutes. I was horrified to hear how often I interrupted the caller!
My wife has often told me I interrupt herself and others. And I’m a professional counselor! My job is to listen effectively.
So you can be sure I’ve been monitoring myself closely.
If I hadn’t received that critical feedback, I may have continued with a bad habit that would prove to be an expensive undoing to my career.
Suggestions for Preventing Expensive Mistakes
Take a Personality Test
I suggest two tests. The first free personality test is based on the Myers/Briggs personality inventory. Click here to take this test. (It’s free and I’m not an affiliate)
The second free personality test is based on the four temperament types. Click here to take this test. (It’s free, and I’m not an affiliate)
Take Your Strengths Inventory
I’ve written in the past about the Gallup Strengths Inventory. When you purchase the book, Strengths Finder 2.0, you’ll get your own code to unlock the test. Once you identify your strengths, you’ve got access to your full report. You can read the full description of each of your top five strengths. The action plan report that comes with the report will help you figure out how to grow your strengths.
But you can also learn about your weaknesses by choosing the opposite quality. For example, Harmonizer is my top strength. I’m a great diplomat, but I know that I struggle with putting a strong opinion out there in a discussion, and being comfortable with conflict. So I know that assertiveness and conflict avoidance are weaknesses I must address to be fully effective.
Take A Test To Pinpoint Your Character Strengths
Sign up at Dr. Martin Seligman’s site, Authentic Happiness, (free, and not an affiliate link) and you’ll have access to a variety of research based assessments. Take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. I was going to take the test while writing this article, but there are 240 items to answer! So I’ll put that on my “Do Later” list.
I’m guessing that once I pinpoint my character strengths, I can also think about the opposite to find character weaknesses I need to work on.
Review Your Moral Failings
I write this blog from a spiritual perspective and as a counselor, so I appreciate the knowledge Alcoholics Anonymous has collected in the course of helping thousands of people break free from alcoholism. The twelve steps, especially Step 4, is a simple yet profound way to find our own character defects/weaknesses.
Write down all the people, past and present, who you resent or have unfinished business with. Why are you angry with them? What happened? Then write what part you played in the breakdown of the relationship. In many cases, we also contributed to the trouble. What is our part?
Whether alc0holic or not, I believe each one of us can benefit from working through Step 4 and learning where we have fallen short in many of our relationships. Here’s a free worksheet for working Step 4.
Ask Others For Feedback
Dumb Little Man’s article, How To Fall In Love with Negative Feedback, tutored me in the way of listening without defensiveness during one of my most challenging moments in relationship with another person. After reading the article, I applied the tips, and they worked!
When you get your performance review, pay attention to your areas of weakness. How can you use your strengths to address those? Who can you partner with to help you learn new skills?
Loved ones often give us feedback for free! My wife, for example, lets me know about my strengths, but she’s not afraid to tell me about my annoying habits! And if she’s noticed, I’m sure the rest of the world around me has noticed, too!
We all have blind spots. Ask your good friends at times for areas you need to work on. Peyton Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Here’s what the article, Growing Up A Manning, says about his method of improving on his weaknesses:
Peyton’s film-study regimen has been well documented. He spent as much time in the film room in college as his coaches and would sometimes have pizzas delivered for late-night study sessions. In Indianapolis, Manning had a high-tech video system installed in his home.
Just as Peyton studies his own shortcomings to improve, so we can avoid expensive mistakes in our lives by studying both our strengths and weaknesses, and taking stps to amplify our strengths while working on our weaknesses.
Image credit: tiero / 123RF Stock Photo
How about you? Do you agree or disagree that we need to study our weaknesses? How have you overcome a weakness in your life?