Should We Really Embrace Our Weaknesses?

March 11, 2015 — 2 Comments

Is it ok to admit that we have weaknesses?

And if we do admit that we have weaknesses, is it ok to take it a step further and embrace them?

Last year at the World Domination Summit in Portland, OR, I had a conversation with my friend Chad wherein we explored the inherent strengths that present themselves in our perceived weaknesses. Personally, I think it’s smart to acknowledge the weak areas in your life so that you can at the very least be aware of them, but also, so that you can ask for help or partner with those who are strong in those areas. That said, I’m a huge proponent of focusing the majority of your energy on making your strengths even stronger, while minimizing the “damage” of your weaknesses.

The obvious perceived weakness for me is the fact that I have one hand. I’ve never personally viewed it as a weakness, but I know others do and are inspired by my ability to succeed in life despite my weakness. That should pretty much all be in quotes, but I think you get what I’m saying. In my case, I’ve embraced my “weakness” and have turned it into a strength. Because I’ve embraced it, I’ve been afforded innumerable opportunities to help others in similar situations via speaking and this blog and videos. I’ve been able to travel and interview amazing people, including my childhood hero! It’s opened the door to a lifetime of purpose and opportunity that I would never have had if I relegated myself to viewing my difference only as a weakness and choosing not to embrace it.

So, what’s your weakness? And how can you embrace it? How can you make it a strength? You might be thinking, “Ryan, my weakness is overeating. You want me to embrace that? How is that a strength?” Great question. I have the same weakness. And I think this is where it’s fun to get creative. Making unhealthy choices isn’t a weakness I want to embrace. But, it’s a weakness I can admit and ask for help with and as I develop healthier habits I can then use my experience as a strength, right? I can help other people by sharing my story, which also happens to be fantastic motivation in my quest to develop healthier habits! This is just one example and I know there are a million of them.

Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying to give in to your addictions or unhealthy habits. I’m not saying to slump into your couch and mope about how weak you are. I’m saying to embrace your weaknesses so that you can become strong; so that you can use them to your advantage. So you can partner with others, honestly and vulnerably, and strengthen each other. So you can exert more control over your life and determine to live a better story than you’re telling now.

That’s what I want to do.

I’m still fleshing out this idea and would love to hear your thoughts about it. Please share them in the comments below!

Ryan

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I’m a husband, a father, an author, a speaker, a friend…all kinds of things, actually.

2 responses to Should We Really Embrace Our Weaknesses?

  1. Love it, Ryan! When I refer to embracing weakness, I too am most definitely NOT talking about giving into our base desires. I’m talking about embracing a willingness to understand our weaknesses and what they can teach us about ourselves and what we have to offer the world. I’m fond of saying the path to our art–to the most profound contributions we have to offer the world–goes THROUGH our weakness, not around it. And you, friend, exemplify this in one of the most beautiful, poignant ways I’ve ever seen!!!

  2. I’m having trouble beginning this because “weakness” means different things to different people. As a child I had a friend who had Cerebral Palsey and a cousin with Downs Syndrome. 70 years ago “differences” were hidden from view but both of these families chose not to hide their sons with differing results. My cousin’s family fought for classes for children with handicaps and helped to develop the first sheltered workshops. When I began teaching in Western PA I was so surprised at how far behind they were in Special Education. This was due, in large part, to the tenaciousness of our family in South Central PA.

    The other family didn’t hide their son either but they allowed him to become a spoiled brat. He was bright and capable and had a wicked sense of humor but instead of making him go to therapy, do his school work, participate in his improvement, they said “Poor pitiful _______. It’s so sad that he can’t ________.” He lived into his ’60s and was a mean, nasty burden to all.

    I look at my 8 year old friend, Blake. His parents have made sure that his “little hand” is just a part of him. In Preschool and Kindergarten it was part of Show and Tell. Putting it front and center makes it hard for it to be an object of derision because it’s not embarrassing to him. This week he took Nemo and a poster of Nick Newell! Wore his Lucky Fin bracelets and one of his special Tee shirts for the first day of about me week at school. He may need to do things differently but managing is a given not a chore. I hope that the normalcy of this will carry over to middle school but at least he’ll have the support of his friends from school, basketball, soccer, etc.

    The more we embrace our own weaknesses the more we can work with them. That may mean adapting or taking steps to improve but unless we accept that they exist, our lives will be poorer.

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