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Are You Aware of Your Biggest Weakness?

Jun 19, 2017

What is the one trait most likely to make someone successful?

Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations conducted a study in 2010. They examined 72 executives at public and private companies with revenues from $50 million to $5 billion. The research examined a number of executive interpersonal traits. “Leadership searches give short shrift to ‘self-awareness,’ which should actually be a top criterion.  Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success.”

This information shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve all been around leaders who lacked self-awareness. We’ve also experienced the consequences of lacking this kind of awareness ourselves. An incomplete perspective is a dangerous thing.

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror…All that I know now is partial and incomplete.” He knew that his understanding of the world was imperfect. He knew his biggest weakness was his perspective.

And it is our biggest weakness too.

Today, I’m launching a new giveaway here at ScottSavageLive. It’s called The #HopeDose Giveaway. A couple months ago, I began asking myself, “What gives me new perspective? What renews my hope?” That list led me to assemble an amazing package of items, which have helped me gain a new perspective when I’ve needed it. Valued at nearly $140, I’m giving away these 7 items, which will help one lucky entrant to get a “dose of hope”. To learn more about these prizes and to find out how you can enter to win, visit my giveaway page.

weakness awareness blinders on dummy

Wearing Blinders: My Lack of Awareness

When I graduated from seminary, I wanted to move from a part-time position at my church to a full-time one. Our family needed the additional income to pay off debt and create breathing room in our budget. However, the American economy was in the middle of the Great Recession and over 15% of our church was unemployed. Many of our members were underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their house was worth. Our staff had just taken a 7.5% salary reduction. A move to full-time wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

During this time, my wife consistently encouraged me to apply for a second job or look for a new full-time one. I loved my work and the team I was working alongside, so I wanted to hold out hope I could move to full-time eventually. I half-heartedly applied for other church jobs and a few part-time jobs near our home.

One day, my wife and I had a “crucial conversation”. I can still remember where we were sitting in the living room of our one-bedroom apartment. In no uncertain terms, she told me I had blinders on (she put her hands next to her face like the photo below) and that I needed to expand my vision. She asked me some hard questions that night, which exposed my blind spots and my pride.

This dose of new perspective was far from comfortable; I think I may have cried that evening. But the conversation moved me to action and within a few weeks, I had a second (and then a third) part-time job. It was those jobs which helped us get credit-card-debt-free and changed our financial future.

One Captain’s Weakness: No Awareness

Maybe you’re like I was sitting in that living room with my wife. You might not even know you need a dose of new perspective. Maybe you’ve been given a new point-of-view and you’re fighting against it. It’s not easy to acknowledge that you have a weakness and are unable to see things clearly.

A lot of us are like the captain in a famous story told by naval officer, Frank Koch.

“A battleship had been at sea on its routine maneuvers under heavy weathers for days. The captain, who was worried about the deteriorating weather conditions, stayed on the bridge to keep an eye on all activities.

One night, the lookout on the bridge suddenly shouted, “Captain! A light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it stationary or moving astern?” the captain asked.

The lookout replied that it was stationary. This meant the battleship was on a dangerous collision course with the other ship. The captain immediately ordered his signalman to signal to the ship: “We are on a collision course. I advise you to change course 20 degrees east.”

Back came a response from the other ship: “You change course 20 degrees west.”

Agitated by the arrogance of the response, the captain asked his signalman to shoot out another message: “I am a captain, you change course 20 degrees east.”

Back came the second response: “I am a second class seaman, you had still better change course 20 degrees west.”

The captain was furious this time! He shouted to the signalman to send back a final message: “I am a battleship. Change course 20 degrees east right now!”

Back came the flashing response: “I am a lighthouse.”

The captain duly changed course.”

Like that battleship captain, if we don’t gain an awareness of what impacts our perspective, our lack of awareness could be our undoing.

5 Weak Spots Where We Need More Awareness

Through reflection and personal study, I’ve found five forces which shape our perspectives in positive and negative ways. These spots can become weaknesses, where we’re vulnerable to perspective manipulation. When we become aware of these forces, we can take action to reframe our perspective and refresh our hope.

1. Events

Regular events on our calendar often become toxic to our perspective. It’s like we become weak on schedule! My friend Paul used to serve at an organization where staff meetings were led by a passive-aggressive leader. The staff took a verbal beating for not working hard enough and critical feedback was devalued. Paul began to cope by taking his favorite food and drink to the meeting. He’d nurse these two as his method of holding his tongue and enduring the beating, all the while looking for a new career opportunity. A small habit made a big difference for him.

Paul began to cope by taking his favorite food and drink to the meeting. He’d nurse these two as his method of holding his tongue and enduring the beating, all the while looking for a new career opportunity. A small habit made a big difference for him.

2. Places

For some of us, when we arrive somewhere, we can feel ourselves shifting from hope to fear, from positive thinking to cynicism. Some environments make us instantly stressed and on edge. It’s as if our weakness has an address.

My friend Jeff leads a small company. He knows the moment he hits the front door, he will be hit with problems to solve and a full calendar.

Jeff decided to begin a new habit when he pulls into the parking lot. He chooses a spot far from the front door and sits in his car in silence for 5 minutes before heading inside. During this silence, Jeff prays, meditates on important truths, and creates his mindset for the day.

3. Relationships

Difficult relationships often send our perspectives spinning, especially when we’re dealing with unhealthy people who disrespect boundaries. These people know our weakness and figure out how to push our buttons.

This was Megan’s story. Her boss was a poor communicator. He had no boundaries himself and expected the same from his employees.

Megan began leaning on her friends when meeting with her boss. She’d prepare her conversation in advance and even carry affirmations with her into the meeting. At a glance, she could reconnect with the two or three goals she had for herself in the meeting. Ultimately, Megan found a new position in another company, but she didn’t allow this relationship to define her perspective. She took control.

4. Strengths

You wouldn’t think a strength could be a weakness. But when we don’t have self-awareness about all the facets of our strengths, they can become major vulnerabilities.

This is my story. If you’ve ever read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, you’ve probably heard of Words of Affirmation. That’s how I receive love. The way I’m wired directly correlates to the work I do in public (writing and speaking) to create a very interesting challenge.

I receive love through Words of Affirmation and many times, people who experience my words pass on Words of Affirmation. However, I can become dependent on getting that feedback from others to make me feel okay.  As the performing artist Lecrae shares, this can be dangerous. “If you live for their approval, you’ll die from their rejection,” he says.

I am aware of this strength/weakness. I’ve invited accountability from those closest to me and I’m building habits to mitigate my vulnerability to it.

5. Insecurity

Insecurity is a silent killer. Many of us aren’t aware of its presence, much less its power over us. Some helpful indicators we’re battling this weakness are an inability to admit failure, a refusal to show weakness, and a need to constantly be affirmed for others for recent successes.

I don’t know if there’s ever been an era where insecurity has been more pervasive. Social media has given us an outlet to outsource our sense of security to the approval or disapproval of others. As a result, we rarely admit failure. We don’t show weakness; we filter until we can show strength. And we check and check and check, waiting to see what other people said about what we shared.

What if we stepped away from our devices for a certain period of time each day? Or what if we fasted from certain apps for a period of time? I’ve intentionally turned off the notifications for all of my social media accounts so that I’m not alerted every time someone likes, comments or shares. It’s amazing how much quieter my phone became when I took that step.

Next Steps

Part of the reason I launched my #HopeDose giveaway was I wanted to share some ways I reset my perspective. I wanted to challenge you to make your list of things which deliver your daily dose of hope. Think about it…

What alters your perspective?
What reorients it?
Where do you turn when you need to reframe life and renew your hope? 

Knowing the answers to these questions and leaning on the answers can make a major difference in our daily levels of hope and perspective.

And the exciting news is one lucky winner is going to receive a few items which help me.

A journal and pens to process my thoughts.

A coffee to share with a friend who can share a different point-of-view.

A book to help my perspective rise above my circumstance.

The Bible to help me gain God’s perspective on my life.

If you haven’t entered the giveaway, you can do so here. There are several ways to enter and you can enter multiple times.

After you enter, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. What are your weakness when it comes to maintaining hope and a healthy perspective? How do you reset your perspective and renew your hope?

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