“What are some of your weaknesses?” –> I hated this question during job interviews because you really had to make sure you picked things that didn’t scare your potential employer away while still sounding genuine, etc.

If I were being honest, I would’ve spouted off quite a few things and remained jobless. Ha!

I started thinking about strengths and weaknesses again after a convo with my mom. I then listened to a Simon Sinek podcast episode where we reframes strengths and weaknesses. I wanted to share all of this, especially as we approach the new year and want to change everything! Also, I have a much better answer to that silly interview question.

It all started when m y mom told me that she and my aunt were talking earlier about my sister and how chill and calm she is. How she just moves at her own speed and nothing can really speed her up. They were totally complimentary about this and even said that we should all be this way.

If I’m being 100% honest, I first took this to mean that my mom was telling me I’m not this way and need to change. She NEVER once said that so totally a me thing, but it left me feeling less than.

An hour or so later, I listened to Simon Sinek’s podcast and immediately felt better. In it, he talks about how (and I’m paraphrasing) the terminology of strengths and weaknesses needs to go. It’s really all about context.

For example, 85% of the time being more like my sister – calm and chill – is the way to go. She’s so meticulous and rarely makes careless errors. Her laidback personality also makes her really easy and fun to be around. BUT…if you are in a time crunch, she may not be the best person to call on. She also takes forever to make decisions and gets sidetracked a lot. It makes me laugh to this day, but I’ll never forget when she was over for dinner with my BIL. I was making paninis and she asked me how she can help. I told he to cut the chicken so I can start making the sandwiches. Two minutes later, I see her in the living room chatting with Vishnu and my BIL. She totally got distracted, and I ended up prepping the chicken!

Now, on the other hand, I’m a very time oriented person who is mission driven. I have a hard time being slow and sort of carefree. I value productivity over most things. This makes me THE person you want when you need to stay focused on a task. I can also make quick decisions. There’s a reason I was in project management for over 10 years! But of course, my strengths don’t work in so many contexts. I’m not always fun to be around, and sometimes I miss the human element because I’m so focused on getting things done.

So while you could totally characterize these traits of ours as strengths or weaknesses, it’s all dependent on the context or situation.

This is important to remember from a personal development perspective because so often we’re trying to change our perceived weaknesses into strengths without realizing that in some contexts they may already be.

So yes, while I will always strive to be a bit more like my sister, I also recognize that some of my attributes and characteristics have served me well and will continue to.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

And now to answer that interview question a little differently. You could say something like, “I don’t believe in strengths or weaknesses because a perceived strength in some contexts is a weakness in others and vice versa. And here’s an example of that…”

By Parita

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