Blake Smith

create. code. learn.


know your weaknesses

One thing that I am continuing to pursue is a higher degree of self-awareness. Knowing yourself and being able to see accurately who you are puts you on a clear path towards wisdom. Being able to see reality for what it is instead of seeing what you want to see - this is where real growth and development happens.

This means that you must know your strengths, and also be aware of your weaknesses. Having a jaded perspective about who you are will only lead you to focus on activities that bear less fruit. For example, I know that I am not a very spacially creative person. I am not good at graphic design, color schemes (as you might be able to tell from the layout of my website) and solving problems that involve geometry or spacial awareness. I know this is one of my weaknesses. It would be so easy to deny that I’m bad at this, but that will not lead to a healthy and prosperous reality.

Instead, I try to focus on more of my strengths: analytical thought, logical problem solving, verbage and rhetoric, (just to name a few). These are not only areas where I find I have the most success, but I also find these to be the areas where I am happiest working in. I get into my ‘flow’ much easier when doing things that fall into line with my abilities.

Does this mean I shouldn’t try to improve my graphical design abilities? No. Growing and improving in your weaknesses can be valuable if it is approached from the right angle. Instead of trying to ‘out-do’ the masters of graphic design, I try to minimize my ignorance. For me to work with a graphic designer, I need to have enough skills to be competent. I need to be able to ‘talk the lingo’. The graphic designer needs to know that I understand their trade. Not just because I can talk about it, but because I have done some of it myself and can empathize with their situation. In this way, I am able to work with the graphic designer in a much more integrated manner. I can understand the things he is saying, and trust that he is doing the right thing when I don’t understand what he is saying.

By my nature, I am a generalist. I like to learn little tidbits about everything. There is so many exciting avenues of intellectual pursuit out there that call to me on a daily basis. For me the challenge is to recognize that not everything I do I have to be the best at. I love to explore new places of growth and learning, but I don’t have to be the master at everything. Being able to recognize when something fits my core abilities or when something is an element of my weakness can go a long way. I must focus on my strengths and gain understanding and competence in my weaknesses.

I would challenge you to do the same thing. Think about what your strengths and weaknesses are. Don’t be ashamed to admit what you aren’t good at. Getting it out in the open will help you to grow. Embrace what you are. Only then can you truly acheive the greatness that you can become.

about the author

Blake Smith is a Principal Software Engineer at Sprout Social.