I took some time off in December and I'm finally getting around to catching up on RSS feeds. Turns out I’ve been tagged by Ken Simmons to contribute to another chain post to answer the classic interview question "What is your biggest weakness?" I've been told in the past that the best way to answer this question is with something clever – like a strength that you call a weakness but you really spin into some form of self promotion to make yourself look better. But…I don't think you really want me wax poetic about how great I am (I don't want to either!) and this isn't a job interview, so I'm going to be honest because the only way we really learn how to be better is to recognize our faults and learn from them.
My biggest weakness: Letting go. Let me explain…
- Letting go of opportunities – in other words, knowing when to say no. It's especially tempting to say yes when people ask you to do something that sounds exciting, but taking on too much can be detrimental. I think it's far better to be very successful at a few things than to take on too much and fail.
- Letting go of responsibilities – in order to do new and exciting things you have to learn how to hand off responsibilities to other people. Think about it this way – at some point someone had to hand off their responsibilities for you to be in the position you're in today. This goes back to what I just said about taking on too much – if you just keep adding things on you're bound to fail at some point.
- Letting go of being right – compromise can be difficult to accept and we all like to be right. The reality is that we're not always right and it's better for our personal and professional development to learn when to hold your ground and when to admit that someone has a better answer than you.
- Letting go of things I cannot control – my friend Andy Warren recently told me "you can only control 50% of things" and it really stuck with me. There's no sense in spending time worrying about things you have no control over. The more time you spend on the things you can't control, the less time you have to focus on the things you can.
I've learned to deal with this particular weakness partly by learning from those who have "been there and done that" before me, and partly through experience (a.k.a. the school of hard knocks). It's not always easy letting go of things, but looking back at where I've been and where I am now I realize that it's something I've got a much better handle on now.