The standard approach to self-improvement is take a weakness of yours and improve it.
If you’re skinny, lift weights.
If you can’t draw, practice it. Maybe take a class.
It’s a great strategy. And you might wonder – what else could you possibly do to get stronger?
Lean into your strengths?
Sure, you could do that too.
But there’s a powerful and often-overlooked alternative.
One that sounds ‘obvious’, except so few folk ever seriously try this.
Instead of removing your weakness, use it.
This is the core of half the feel-good movies out there. The ugly girl flaunts what she has and is now beautiful. The nerd fakes his way into popularity, but becomes cooler and happier when he learns to “be himself”.
I don’t need to explain why you could call this the Rudolf Protocol, whose mockery-attracting birth defect saved the day. Had he gone in for cosmetic surgery as a younger buck, Christmas would have been doomed.
But, hey, fascinating. Could we take it out of the realm of fiction though? Who cares if it works in stories – does it work in real life?
Okay. Let’s take marketing then.
Scummy marketers lie about their products.
Amateurs ignore the worst features and hope no one notices them.
The pros, though?
They brag about the weaknesses. In the slang of the industry, this is making the skeleton dance.
Is your product expensive? Own that and say it’s not for cheapskates.
Are you new to the market? Own that and say how hungry you are to prove yourself.
Does your product break easily? Own that and say it’s a necessary compromise to make it as quickly or cheaply as you do. Bonus: it won’t clutter up your shelf for years to come, if it’s the sort of thing you only need to use a few times.
What about dating? What’s holding you back?
Are you too old… or are you experienced, mature and not prone to petty drama?
Are you too poor… or do you choose genuine moments of connection over expensive dinners?
You could be so ugly you learned how character trumps appearance.
In a job interview, maybe everyone but you has a degree from a fancy university. Some folk would call that a weakness, but isn’t that a strength? If you can point to projects you’ve accomplished while everyone else spouts naïve theory, your weakness is your best asset.
Imagine if you wasted time getting a degree no one really cared about.
Of course, this isn’t an excuse to skip the gym, break your diet and throw away your textbooks. Sometimes weaknesses are weaknesses. Sometimes you genuinely need to improve.
But not always.
And sometimes our biggest, most immutable weaknesses are our biggest strengths.
The more unchangeable something seems, the more it pays off to use it.
Change what you can and leverage the rest.
Then again, no problem is truly immutable.
Especially those of the mind.
If you want to change your perspective, enhance your abilities, delete pain and phobias, and transcend your limitations, then keep reading: