Words are powerful. There is a reason we call it “spelling” as the choice of the words we use help to shape our thinking, perceiving and understanding. What we say and how we say it can open us up to more powerful growth and effectiveness or they can help to shut down potential and possibilities.
At EQIQ Leadership / Staub Leadership International we use the phrase “growth opportunity” instead of the work “weakness.” Words and our use of them truly matter. Take for example the word “failure” – it is often used as a noun as in “I am a failure.” We suggest using it as a verb ONLY as in “I failed in this task.” You can change the action of a verb but a noun becomes a “thing” an identity if you will that labels and limits. So try on this, “I failed in this task and I can learn from that and improve.” We invite you to be very mindful of the words you use and going forward, instead of calling something a “weakness” start calling it “a growth opportunity” or even “a blind spot I need to be aware of so I can take it into account in my planning and actions.”
Powerful Examples of CEOs / Founders Who Understood This:
- Mary Kay Ash (of Mary Kay Cosmetics) “Failing forward”
- Soichiro Honda (founder of Honda) “The way forward is to fail many times quickly and learn from it.” And also, “Success is 99 percent failure.”
Seizing Your Most Significant Growth Opportunities: Reframing and reprogramming limiting thinking
- Take a pad of paper and write down a list of what you have formally called “weaknesses”
- Review that list and pull out the top 2-3 that seem to capture your greatest levels of self-criticism or even sense of pain
- Write down those 2-3 on another sheet of paper with 4 lines separating each of them
- Under each of those write down the top 4 “opportunities” for your personal growth and development under each on of the formerly cleverly disguised “weaknesses”
- Go back and look at your list of how to Leverage your Strengths and ask, “How might I leverage, build upon or use one or more of these to compensate or help address this growth opportunity?”
- “Strike the word “weakness” from your vocabulary when it comes to describing yourself or others and substitute the word “opportunity” such as, “Ah, here is a growth opportunity.”
- Go back to your list of opportunities to grow and ask yourself if you are willing to do the work to seize one or more of them consistent with your PURPOSE and guiding 4 VALUES.
- If you are not willing to address the opportunity, then be conscious you are making the choice and set it aside.
- ONLY focus on at most the top one or two opportunities you are willing to seize in order to grow
- Act on this consistent with your core Purpose and top 4 Values
- Celebrate every step forward