(Note: This is based on one of the prompts from Robert S. Kaplan’s book What You’re Really Meant to Do.)
Previously I wrote about three things I’d determined I was good at. Now it’s time, though, to turn the coin over and look at three things I’m not that great at. This isn’t about specific things I can learn more about, it’s more about general areas I recognize some deficiency in.
This is always a favorite question of those interviewing a candidate, to ask them to name a weakness. The idea is to see if the prospective new hire has any sense of self-awareness and sense of reality about themselves. It’s the rare individual, after all, who is so perfect it’s not to be believed. So we’re asked what areas we find ourselves lacking in and try to phrase it in a way as to make it sound like we’re trying to be self-effacing or that it’s something we’re working on or apply some other caveat to it.
I’ve come at this question at various times from the perspective of areas I realistically know I need to improve in, not necessarily areas where I stink. After putting some thought into how I’ve answered people who have asked me this question and doing some other self-evaluation, here are three areas where I know I’m weak on skills:
- Too Informal: I tend not to put too much thought into where people rank and how that needs to change my interactions with them. This is not always useful, though I’ve always positioned it as a positive, proof that I’m a “straight shooter” or something like that. The reality is, though, that I’m overly-blunt and tend to talk to C-level execs in the same loose, friendly manner that I’d speak to someone at my own pay grade. Sometimes that’s come back to bite me in the ass and it’s something I continue to work on.
- No Good at Networking: I once heard an introvert described not as someone who doesn’t enjoy being around people but someone for whom small talk is exhausting and difficult. That’s very much me. I’m generally charming and gregarious when talking with someone but I also get tired of conversations after a few minutes unless they’re about something substantive. I also live in perpetual belief that I’m so unremarkable people forget who I am 10 minutes after I walk away. Making a strong impression has never been my strong suit and that’s hurt me in terms of building a network outside of a few steadfast friends.
- Not Visually-Minded: Again, this is something that I realize I’m just not great at. I don’t have artistic skills and don’t put much thought into how my own content appears. That’s not to say I can’t recognize good design or artistry when I see it. It just means I’m not the guy you want to call when you’re talking about overall design issues. My time working with the Voce Platforms team taught me a ton along these lines, but I don’t have the skills to implement that myself.
Have you done a serious self-assessment along these lines? What have you discovered – or at least admitted – about yourself?