If You Can’t Fix It, Feature It

by | February 9, 2015

If you can’t fix it… feature it. This is my father’s voice in my head. His go to humorism whenever life had reached an impasse or ingenuity had attained it’s lofty limits. It’s an immensely valuable lesson to take your shortcomings and turn them into a unique benefit. There is a sort of alchemy and magic in that thought and action, “if you can’t fix it… feature it”. There is also great value to be found in the self awareness, perspective and creativity the idea fosters. It is well worth a deeper look into how we can apply this thought to our personal and professional lives and take honest stock of our individual tools, armor and weaponry.

Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, all of us have shortcomings. There are parts of our personalities and make-ups that tend to hinder us in certain situations. We could all stand to be more honest with ourselves about that fact. Once we do that we can start to identify and understand what we are poor at and we can begin to use those things as a benefit or perhaps recognize when we should avoid them.

A couple years ago, Dave Kerpen, Founder and CEO of Likeable Local wrote about an exercise based on the excellent ‘Freak Factor’ manifesto by David Rendall. In his piece he laid out an exercise that can help people take inventory of their less than stellar sides and also begin to view them in a more beneficial light.

Think about your biggest weaknesses at work and in life. What qualities are you most unhappy about? Of the following list of 16 typical weaknesses, look carefully and choose the three that resonate most with you:

1) Disorganized

2) Inflexible

3) Stubborn

4) Inconsistent

5) Obnoxious

6) Emotionless

7) Shy

8) Irresponsible

9) Boring

10) Unrealistic

11) Negative

12) Intimidating

13) Weak

14) Arrogant

15) Indecisive

16) Impatient

Got your three biggest weaknesses? Great. (Don’t be too depressed, the rest of this activity is more fun). Next, look at the below list, find the same three weaknesses, and look at the traits to the right of each of your three biggest weaknesses:

1) Disorganized —> Creative

2) Inflexible —> Organized

3) Stubborn —> Dedicated

4) Inconsistent —> Flexible

5) Obnoxious —> Enthusiastic

6) Emotionless —> Calm

7) Shy —> Reflective

8) Irresponsible —> Adventurous

9) Boring —> Responsible

10) Unrealistic —> Positive

11) Negative —> Realistic

12) Intimidating —> Assertive

13) Weak —> Humble

14) Arrogant —> Self-Confident

15) Indecisive —> Patient

16) Impatient —> Passionate

The three qualities to the right of your three weaknesses are all strengths.

Hidden in your weaknesses are your strengths.

Every weakness has a corresponding strength.

This exercise is beneficial for two reasons:

  1. You have to be self aware. Knowing your limitations is key in being able to properly and productively assess and overcome a situation. The fight you always win is the fight you are smart enough to know you’ll lose and therefore avoid and outsource.
  2. Viewing your weaknesses from a positive angle will help you adapt to and overcome problems by attacking them from a different, creative and winnable angles.

The world is a very large, difficult and competitive place. There is no reason whatsoever you should be making your problems larger and more difficult because you are competing within yourself. Especially when the keys to unlocking the problem have been sitting right in front of you the whole time. Put yourself first. Take what you have available. Move forward.