Knowing your weaknesses is in itself a strength.

Written by: Lee on 10th Mar 2011

From quite a young age, most people are told to focus on what we do well, to ‘play to your strengths’. This can and does have benefits and has helped a lot of people progress in life, however, I believe that just as valuable a skill to have is knowing your weaknesses and in turn making them strengths. Bodybuilding is in fact a great way to learn about doing this as you need to be aware of any weak areas you may have so you can bring them up to the same level as the rest of your body. That being said, I will use my own body building experience to start the topic.

A couple of weeks back, I took a long, hard look at myself in the mirror and detailed every part of my bodies good and bad points. Not too long ago, this would have had a very negative impact on me as I picked out more negatives than I was expecting, but, instead of letting it get me down, I planned the next 2 weeks of training to focus on hitting these ‘weak’ areas. I found this actually gave me greater drive and direction in my workouts, more than I’ve had in a while and this has led to some of the best workouts of my life. As I see these weak areas pick relatively quickly, it also gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

This approach can be used in any number of ways and is essentially about making the best out of a bad situation. One of the biggest reasons I started training was that I was a very angry, bitter individual with a lot of pent up negative emotion (my weakness). Instead of letting these negative feelings overwhelm me, denying they were there or turning to drink/drugs as so many people do these days, I accepted they were there and used them to fuel every workout I had for the first 6 months of my training life. I pictured the people that I was angry with, the situations that made me angry and wanted to show them all that I could do something with myself. Now, this may not sound like the best reason to start training but it was the best way to deal with a difficult point in my life and eventually, the anger disappeared (strangely enough as my training and results improved) and my life was able to move on and build again. Getting something so positive from what was a very negative situation has changed how I deal with any and all problems.

In my pre training life when I used to work on a shop floor selling spectacles, I was never a good ‘salesman’ in the classic sense as I couldn’t and wouldn’t sell something I thought wasn’t right for the customer. I still maintained some the highest sales figure in the store because I would recommend products that I truly believed made a difference and frames that really worked in peoples own circumstances. I knew my weakness so could work towards a method that ensured I did my job but didn’t make me feel dirty.

How does this relate to everyone else? Well, hopefully it shows that by being completely honest with yourself about who you are and what you are capable of can help you set up a realistic and effective way of dealing with what life may throw at you.

Some quick examples could be:
If you’re short on time or have poor time management, planning quick but intense workouts to fit around this.
If you have low willpower, schedule a cheat meal every week to look forward to.
If you have body parts that are seemingly unresponsive to training, make them your main focus until they do improve and plan workouts suitable for doing this. Don’t ignore them.
If you lack motivation, find a training partner or even a PT to put you through your paces.
If you have a lot of negative emotion like I had, find a high impact activity that lets you work through it and get the aggression out.
If you lack commitment, be realistic about your goals and make lots of shorter term ones to keep you interested.

Most of lifes problems have both a healthy and unhealthy way of dealing with them, knowing what you can and (just as importantly) can’t do, should enable you make a realistic, healthy choice in this situation.

Comments

I love the idea of

I love the idea of recognizing your weaknesses and making them strengths; it's really inspiring and encouraging. I have poor time management and have been procrastinating a lot myself.

My favorite statement on the

My favorite statement on the list is the one about releasing negative emotions through positive means. Don't let pent-up emotions pull you down, instead channel them into activities that benefit you both physically and emotionally.

I think you have found a very

I think you have found a very positive way to encourage others to look at what they need to work on honestly without being unhealthy about it. Thanks for the encouragement and advice.

I can say that I always knew

I can say that I always knew my weaknesses, when it comes to sport, and life, which always gave me the edge when competing with other people.

It's kind of like that old

It's kind of like that old saying "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Of course, easier said than done.

If you say so

If you say so. It's always humbling to look at our weaknesses, but it's true that just because we don't look at them doesn't mean they're not there.

Honesty is the best policy,

Honesty is the best policy, as it turns out, even though the truth can sometimes hurt. I think our pride can get easily bruised when it comes to our physique too.

It's true that if you don't

It's true that if you don't deal with a weakness, then it will automatically keep working against you. Might as well get them working for you!

Excellent Advice!

Your advice is excellent! I not only need to take a long, hard look at my body in the mirror, but also my horrible habits (not drinking, drugs, or anything like that), and nasty attitude (sometimes). You showed me that I have a lot of work to do on myself. Thank you so much!

I love the idea of scheduling

I love the idea of scheduling a cheat meal every week. :) Seriously, it fits me because I believe I have low willpower, especially when it comes to controlling the food I take.

I strongly agree with the

I strongly agree with the last item on the list - setting realistic and short-term goals. In the past, I was the type who would want to lose a lot of pounds in just a short period of time, and if the target weight wasn't met at the specified duration, I got frustrated, but deep in my mind I was actually aware that my goal was on the far-fetched side. I analyzed and realized that I was just cheating on myself, so I started to take things slow and set goals which were achievable and reasonable.

I love the part about the

I love the part about the "cheat meal". I have done this in the past, and it's true - when you know you are going to have that day when you can have it, it makes you not want to snack. And, believe it or not, when that day comes, you somehow don't even really want that much. I guess when think about how hard you worked out, you just don't want to un-do it all. Plus, after eating health for a while, your body just doesn't crave the snacks as much.

I have gradually gained my

I have gradually gained my weight over several years. Now, I find myself frustrated with just how weak and out of shape I have become. I think the suggestion that stuck out most for me, was finding a high impact activity. A friend suggested a cardio kick-boxing class, i think I;ll give it a try!

Good on ya!

What a fantastic message there is in there! Having read that I can see so much of myself in there. I must admit I am frustrated with some body parts not responding to training as much as others so I will focus on those more until they do (specialisation it's called I think?).

I started working out because I was depressed and almost 12 months later I feel so much better, healthier and fitter so having that commitment and mindset really does work.

Thanks so much for that Lee!