Embracing Your Flaws Isn't Enough
We’ve all got weaknesses, and if you’ve got good people in your life who genuinely care about you, they’ll have told you about them by now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I was too emotional. At this point, my typical response is an emphatic, “I know!” Because I do know. I feel everything deeply. Happiness is an extraordinary high. Sadness usually borders on the brink of despair. When I’m angry, it is always seething and, when not tightly capped, explosive. Across the wide range of emotions that exist, I know them all intimately and at their most extreme. It’s the only way I know how to feel.
I’ve been warned it would make me vulnerable, and it has. When I was teased in school, the kids did it more for the reaction, because it was sure to be a big one. I remember one day on the school ground being teased by a group of boys. I don’t even recall what it was about. What I do remember was the way I exploded at them and the way that made them laugh. With my hair blowing madly in the wind and my face stretched in anger, I was a sight to behold. One boy remarked that I looked like a Super Saiyan from Dragon Ball Z. Not exactly the cartoon character girls in my grade wanted to be compared to.
Over the years, I’ve learned that kind of vulnerability can be dangerous. People will take advantage. I’ve made a concentrated effort to gain better control of my emotions, but I decided I never want to stop being hyper-emotional, even if it means crying at every marginally sad video on Facebook or tearing up any time a stranger cries. Why? Because once I figured out how to use my emotions, they became my greatest asset.
As a writer, no matter how beautiful your words are, they’re useless if they don’t make people feel anything. And the thing about making people feel things is you can’t fake it. So when I write, I tap into my emotionality. And doing that has given me another rare skill: I have a chameleon-like ability to write other people’s stories because I really feel them. Those emotions that on most days are still “too much” have allowed me to become a great writer and ghostwriter. That’s right. All those feels are helping me put money in my pocket.
In case you think I’m a one off, there are countless examples of successful people who found ways to turn the things other people thought they had to change into assets. Richard Branson and David Neeleman (founder of JetBlue) both have ADHD. Despite the idea that the diagnosis is bad news, they both embrace it. Oh, and they’re both also multimillionaires who cite their ADHD and the associated creativity, risk-taking, and high energy as key to their success.
The things we consider our greatest weaknesses or flaws are usually things you can’t avoid. They’re things that are embedded in your character and personality. They make you who you are. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your damnedest to master them. Mastering them doesn’t mean learning how to turn them off, but finding ways to flip them in your favour. I’ve watched introverts build businesses around the observations they were able to make because they stand on the fringe. I’ve seen someone turn their tendency to talk a lot into a career in public speaking and party hosting. Embracing your flaws is nice and all, but it’s even better when you can use them to win.