“Man, she is so bossy!”
The comment stung, but it wasn’t the first time I’d heard that about myself. A couple years back, I was in a disorganized group at a corporate sales summit. We had 15 minutes to brainstorm some strategic ideas before a presentation. Knowing my dominant nature, I typically try to hold myself back in group settings to see if a leader emerges and, if so, be an active supporter.
But no one was stepping up. The clock was ticking, and our random rambling was going nowhere fast. I stood up, grabbed a marker, and organized our team’s thoughts on paper. Then I asked who would like to present—and no one raised their hand.
I ended up presenting along with the other most vocal (if reluctant) person in the group, which worked out fine. Fait accompli. As we headed for break, I heard two women who’d been in my group whisper the above comment. Oh well, I thought. They’re right.
The Power of Not Being Perfect
As a life coach, people come to me to overcome their apparent flaws. And together we develop ways to think of their “downsides” as positives. Here are a few examples of how I’ve helped my clients (and some friends!) turn their perceived weaknesses into strengths.
So-Called Flaw: “I’m introverted and socially awkward.”
Truth: You’re a great listener.
This thoughtful introvert creates a safe space for people to open up—an excellent skill to have that many extroverts lack. Plus, introverts like him can create lasting, deep relationships thanks to this trait.
So-Called Flaw: “I worry about everything.”
Truth: You’re considerate and caring.
This comes from a working mom I know. Our worries are energy that can be channeled into action. Worriers are often smart, thoughtful people who can learn to use their energy to help others. Plus, having a little bit of anxiety can even be an advantage at work: Research suggests it signifies intelligence and high IQ!
So-Called Flaw: “I can’t cook to save my life!”
This comes from a VP at an investment bank who also blogs about fashion on the side. Um, about this “flaw”—who the eff cares? We just have to focus on what we can do well—and not the million things that are simply not a priority in our busy lives.
So-Called Flaw: “I’m so impatient!”
Truth: You’re a doer.
This person is extremely passionate. He works full-time for the government and has a side hustle helping preserve natural wildlife—a personal venture that has grown to a level where he’s now receiving state grants. His hustle and passion make him a true force for good in the world and an inspiration to others. He doesn’t sit still, sure—lucky for those plants! With some meditation sprinkled into his hectic days, he’s calmer (and unstoppable).
So-Called Flaw: “I’m a workaholic.”
Truth: You’re thriving.
Recently, I had lunch with a girlfriend who told me about the eight professional projects she was juggling at once. And you know what? I’ve never seen her happier. Her business is booming. In fact, I’ve never met a successful and confident person who has not had this flaw slung at them by others. The truth is, if you love your work and you’re good at it, great opportunities will flow toward you as a result.
Flawed? No way.
What is your flaw? How can you perceive it in a new light? How might it actually work for you? Since I started to own up to and even appreciate my domineering streak, I’ve certainly felt a lot more freedom. I remember to be respectful and stay self-aware enough to take a step back when I need to. Otherwise, I give myself permission to do something beautiful: be myself.
What’s more: Flaws bring us together. They make us human. When we discuss, demonstrate, and own our flaws, we unofficially allow other people to be themselves too. Because no one out there is flawless—not even Beyonce.
How can you rework, rename, or repurpose them to your advantage? Not just for job interviews and cocktail parties, but for you and how you perceive yourself.
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg writes, “I want every little girl whose told she’s bossy to be told instead that she has leadership skills.” Nothing has been more affirming for me to read—what a healthy way to interpret this common flaw. I know that I’ve been hired and promoted based on my leadership skills (yes, what others might see as “bossy”) and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
Originally featured in Greatist.