Growing up it was quite common for me to be the butt of jokes for my height. I was the shortest person in my class. It used to bother me until I went to college and all of a sudden, I wasn’t the shortest person in the room all the time and realized there were a lot more short people in the world. Being short helped me become a problem solver or innovator. I had to figure out how to do things differently. I still cannot reach the top shelf in the cabinets, but I can hop up on the counter to reach things. (All truth be told now that I am older, a step stool is a better option and a staple in my house.) Ultimately in my career my short comings have become my strength. I never run out of leg room on a flight, I do not usually hit my head on heaters in barns, and I do not have any issues sitting in the backseat of cars and can even pull off a toddler’s car seat in a pinch.
Obviously, I set the stage of this conversation in a light-hearted way and put myself as the butt of the joke. However, I have two weaknesses that I have worked on masking or making into my strengths over the years. First, I have social anxiety. But wait a minute, how does a traveling accomplished professional have social anxiety? It is simple, large group of strangers scare me. I hold my breathe on crowded elevators and glue myself to the back corner. I have self-composed panic attacks when I travel through crowded airports. But instead of using my anxiety as an excuse, I use it as one of my superpowers. I am more aware of my surroundings and empathetic to others now. I make small talk to help ease other’s discomfort and I try to make a room of strangers all my friends. Now when I travel to meetings I am not overwhelmed with fear and anxiety but with the wonder of what friend will I run into. I will still admit COVID has been a blessing for me as I now have a legit excuse to expand my personal bubble again…. insert laugh now!
My second weakness is “I wear my heart on my sleeve”. This in the past could come across as brusque, as in reference to weakness number one, or bluntness at times. Ultimately people know where they stand with me. I have had to learn to become political in all aspects of my life.I have learned it is a side-effect of being passionate and knowing who I am and who I am not. I never try to hide my passion but make it more politically correct and positively directed when I can. Unfortunately, it still comes up in reviews and a point of discussions for personal improvement. I will never admit I am perfect, but I try to mask the negative components of my weaknesses will utilizing the positive components as a strength.
I will never compromise my ethics or standards to make other people justify theirs, but I will make sure I show compassion, empathy, and friendship to all that want to become a friend versus a stranger. And yes, I can be used by most as a shoulder to lean on, literally and figuratively.
What are your weaknesses? Have you ever thought about how they influence your strengths and thus can be masked as a superpower?