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September 23, 2009

Leverage Your Weakness

Leverage Your Weakness is the title of the book I thought up today, which would get me on the sell-books-to-drive-corporate-training-to-sell-more-books virtuous cycle. All I need is to actually write the book, which I unfortunately don't have time to do.

The idea came to me during a class on the book Egonomics. That book talks about how people's strengths can become weaknesses if they do too much of them, which is not a new idea. For example, being dedicated is good, but if you overdo dedication, it turns into obsession. That sort of thing. In class they called this a "counterfeited strength", although that term isn't used in the book as far as I can tell.

What I would explain in Leverage Your Weakness is how you should flip this around and view EVERY weakness as the sign of a counterfeited strength, which means that the person actually possesses a strength that they are just overdoing. Take away the overdoing and presto, what's left is a strength. If you have somebody who gets obsessed over their work, don't view this as something that they should just stop; you view obsession as an indication that they have a natural tendency to be dedicated (a good thing) which they are doing too much of. So rather than tell them to stop obsessing, you work to dial it back a bit, so it turns into a positive (I could throw in some fancy math about how if you multiply two negative numbers you get a positive number, that'll impress those MBA types).

The book could list a bunch of weaknesses, show the corresponding latent strength, and then give advice on how to take advantage of that. For example, somebody who likes to show off all the facts that they know. Instead of telling them to shut up, you recognize showing off for what it really is: counterfeited knowledge. This person has the ability to retain lots of information, which is something you can leverage if you just stop them from annoying everybody else while doing it. One example of the guidance there would be to dispatch them to learn new things and then present them to the team in a formal setting where people expect to hear facts spouting out of their mouth. See, just like that the weakness becomes a strength.

I really think I could turn almost any weakness into a counterfeited strength. Somebody can't make decisions? That means they have a counterfeited strength in considering multiple options. Inability to listen to others without interrupting with your own ideas? Must be counterfeited creativity. Yells at other people? Counterfeited passion for the job. And so it goes. Just remember, every time it works I get a quarter.

Posted by AdamBa at September 23, 2009 10:00 PM


Inability to keep your hands off your female coworkers? Dial it down and you have a person with real people skills and no fear of interacting with the other gender. Ok, here's $0.25

Posted by: dorkstar at September 24, 2009 08:21 AM

What if I'm lazy -- what's the hidden strength behind that ?

Posted by: Chester at September 24, 2009 09:11 AM

If you're lazy, then your hidden strength is proper work-life balance.

I thought today's Dilbert was amusing, coming right after I wrote this.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at September 24, 2009 06:41 PM