How honest can you really be about your weaknesses?

In both my best and worst moments in life, I’m well acquainted with my personal weaknesses, so much so that I have darker moments when all I see are my weaknesses. As you’d be right to feel how bad that is. 

In today’s knowledge economy and personal career development world, having an appropriate confidence in the strengths, gifts, and talents that you have to bring to an organization, to a team, to a company, is the most important thing in deciding on whether you get hired or not. And to confirm whether you fit in a role, assessments like StrengthsFinder quickly identify those things you do that are most productive and valuable.

And then I hear something like this:  “Humility is being honest about your weaknesses.

Surely that does not mean sharing all of my weaknesses out in the open, especially on the Internet, for all to see; that’d be like vomiting my worst thoughts. Right?

So I’m a bit confused. I know that I have more weaknesses than strengths. And, I think it’s fair to say that every person in our human condition has weaknesses that outnumbers our strengths. Even that StrengthsFinder assessment ranks the top 5 strength themes out of a total list of 34.

For instance, if you’re great at speaking, it’s unlikely you’d also be a great listener. (I think I’m better at the latter.) 

In an attempt to be honest, here are some of my weaknesses: theoretical & abstract, unskilled with small talk, big-pictured and not detailed, melancholy, not driven, overweight, forgetful, prone to wander, spontaneous, anxious, non-confrontational, people-pleasing, imperfect, sinful, flawed, just to list a few. 

I did not list the many more weaknesses I have for fear of these being used against me, or how these might disqualify me from being hired for employment, or crossing the line of inappropriateness & impropriety.

In a culture that boasts in strengths or a culture that saves face to always present one’s best self, I long for a safe place when people can just be themselves.

Why even risk sharing this blog post? I do want to be humble; I do want to reveal more of my humanity and be relatable and accessible. 

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5 Responses

  1. Deef says:

    Hiding in strengths tends to create separation, isolation or competition, while recognizing weaknesses tends to support community, belonging and connection.

    But developing a relationship with one’s own weaknesses and learning to communicate and talk from them is a bit like an art and a skill. And the way to get better at it, is having the courage (share from one’s heart) to take risks, mess up, and learning from negative feedback. Or others refer to it as ‘Leaning into Discomfort’ or “Fail early & Fail often”.

    Our weaknesses are the key to connecting to the richness and depth of shared humanity, the door to resilience, authenticity, tenderheartedness, genuine connection, adaptability, wholeness, etc.

    This cultural focus towards safety and strength is very short sighted, it ends up being exhausting, creates huge blind spots, and creates a life with constant underlying fear. Ironically one’s suffering and weaknesses can hold the key to deeper meaning and uniquely special super-powers. But few people go deep enough into their suffering to discover all the hidden gems within.

    some quotes to consider:

    “Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.” – Erich Fromm ‘The Art of Loving’

    “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” T.S. Eliot

    “Soul makes community, the beginning of community is what’s called communion, it’s a union of those things that are common, and what’s common to people is not the proximity of their houses, but the struggle of the soul.” — Michael Meade

    “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

    “Indeed, the truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers the most: and his suffering comes to him from things so little and so trivial that one can say that it is no longer objective at all. It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once the subject and the source of his pain, and his very existence and consciousness is his greatest torture.” – Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

  2. Rachelle W. Chuang says:

    Really love the fearlessness of Biola Torrey professor Adam Johnson posting The Un-Resume: http://scriptoriumdaily.com/the-un-resume-an-exercise-in-professional-humility/

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