Strengths and weaknesses - everyone one has them, but we seldom say them out loud or address them directly. It can be hard to admit that we aren’t good at something, and equally hard to give ourselves credit when we have excelled at something. This is something I firmly believe everyone should work on. To get the most out of ourselves in any domain of life (work, training, relationships etc.), it is important we know our strengths and weaknesses, in order to identify how we can make them work for us and continue on the path to self-improvement.
Lets start with the easier one for most people to identify. Weaknesses. Let me start off by saying its okay to have them. Everybody does, because no one is perfect (I don't care who you are - it's true!). Frankly, identifying your weaknesses head on increases your ability to perform immeasurably. Identifying your weaknesses, rather than avoiding them or shying away from them, gives you the ability to come up with a plan to improve in this area as well as understand your limitations and mitigate against them.
Let’s say for example I am not great at time management, I constantly forget appointments or fail to complete important tasks on time. One way I could improve at this is by using a calendar with reminders, and immediately record new appointments as I get them. This is a simple yet effective way to manage my daily and weekly schedule better, so that things don’t get missed.
Or if I am a CrossFitter and I lack mobility, I could make a rule that I am not allowed to do a WOD unless I have completed 20 mins of effective mobility beforehand in order to improve.
The ultimate goal is to improve on your weaknesses, to the point where someone with an outsider perspective will see you performing in your weakness area, and from their point of view would see your weakness as a strength. This is the mark of true greatness.
Now for the harder one. Strengths. The identification of areas of strength are just as important as looking at weaknesses. For many this can be the harder task. In my experience (in Australia, in particular), we live in a culture where tooting your own horn can be seen as arrogant or up-yourself. Forget that. Own your strengths, there is nothing wrong with admitting to yourself you are good at something. In fact, it should be encouraged! Be sure not to neglect areas of strength when looking at your personal development. You'll still need to work on these areas to continue to improve. This is your opportunity to shine to stand up and be counted, separating yourself from your peers.
Take a notepad and pen, tablet, phone or your writing implement of choice. Pick an area of your life where you want to improve: work, CrossFit, parenting, Olympic weightlifting (...endless possibilities!). Write down three strengths and three weaknesses that you have in each area. Be honest here - this is for you, and no one else. Next to each strength and weakness, write a small plan of action on how you are going to improve in this area. Come back in a months time and review your progress. Did you improve? Was the plan effective? Could you improve more with another method? Are you happy with your progress and are you going to continue with the current method of self-improvement?
There is no right or wrong here, identification and having a plan to implement is half the battle. Continual progress is all we are after to see self-improvement. To get the best out of ourselves, we must first know ourselves. Good luck and keep moving forward!