We all have inherent strengths and weaknesses. This is true in every aspect of life, and is often most obvious when it comes to our careers. The biggest problem with weaknesses at work is that we are hardwired to try and overcome them, and this isn't always the best thing to do. Some weaknesses can and should be addressed and worked on. For example, if you are rarely on time for appointments, success in any field will most likely be difficult. This isn't an inherent weakness. You don't need to 'go against the grain' of who you are as a person to overcome chronic lateness.
An inherent weakness is something that, in order to succeed at, you risk draining yourself of your greatest strengths. This is a somewhat complicated topic, and I am in no way saying 'if you're not good at something, don't try to be.' On the contrary, if you are passionate about something, want to learn a new skill, and have the resources to do so, by all means try it. Train, train, train, and reach for the stars. Just keep in mind that certain mental roadblocks exist for a reason, and it's best that we stay in tune with what our bodies and minds are telling us.
Here is one example: I am great at sales and building personal relationships. I love communicating with clients and potential clients, whether through lunch meetings, phone conversations, or through email. I enjoy helping people, answering questions and informing clients of new products/services that may benefit them. I immensely enjoy mentoring and training other women to be successful producers.
I'm an idea person. It's fun and empowering to come up with ideas for generating new business, increasing my client base, and finding other producers to work with. These are things that I love.
What do I hate? Paperwork! Data entry! And while I don't technically hate organization, I long for it. My organization skills aren't what you would call exceptional. In fact, they are quite awful. For years I tried to overcome my lack of organization, forcing myself to do paperwork, keep track of my own appointments, follow up with insurance carriers about requests for missing information, etc. I would leave these undesirable tasks until the last possible minute, and this would cause me unneeded stress. I quietly wished that I could focus all of my time and energy on doing what I loved: meeting with clients and making sales. It was quite some time before I realized I could do just that.
The fact is, there are people with exceptional skills in any area that you are lacking in. Chances are their weaknesses are your strengths ... but that doesn't matter. All that matters is they can do what you don't like and/or aren't good at.
Yes, hiring someone in this capacity has a cost. You have to pay an employee or independent contractor, but you don't have to go from zero to 60 right out of the gate. For example, if you are just getting started and organization, scheduling and paperwork are your weaknesses, find someone to perform these tasks for you on a very part-time basis. Can you afford $50 a week? Then hire someone at $10 an hour to work five hours per week. If you are just getting started, I can't imagine you have more than five hours a week of paperwork, scheduling and organizing that needs done. Maybe it will cost you even less. Of course, this $200 a month expense is more than you would be paying if you were doing this all on your own, but if the extra time and - more importantly - your clarity of mind allow you to make an extra sale each month, you will have more than paid for your employee, and will enjoy your job 10 times more. Not to mention, you will be able to deduct what you are paying from your taxes, increasing your bottom line.
It's also a great idea to have someone who understands your business, on some level, and has access to insurance carriers, licenses, client contact information, etc. in case you are on vacation, ill, or an emergency arises.
Overcoming weaknesses is often an important part of life, and I challenge you to do just that. Just make sure to always pay attention to what your mind is telling you. We can't be good at everything. It's not human nature. No one wants to be the jack of all trades and master of none. Excel at what you're good at. Strive to be the absolute best ... and when you realize, after constant practice, that something just isn't working, move on ... and find someone to do it for you.
Carst is a self-employed broker and consultant. She is the co-founder of Women Insurance Professionals. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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