I try to not spend too much dwelling on the past because I understand that my experiences, good and bad, have led to who I am and the life that I have. I believe that challenges make us stronger and help us become more successful in life. With this said, twice I have come up short for opportunities that I believe were for me. But, I didn’t get them and I only have myself to blame. I made two crucial mistakes and I hope that we can all learn from them whether you are interviewing for a job, trying out for a sports team, or asserting yourself as a leader.
So what did I do wrong? First, I was too honest. Yes, I said it. I was too honest about the skills I would have to develop if offered the position and that was a foolish decision. I elaborated on my areas of weakness instead of only focusing on what I’ve done and most importantly, what I can do.
I am aware of my strengths and thought that the interviewer would agree that my abilities greatly outweigh my weaknesses. I was so confident that my perspective was shared that I conceded that my competitor had certain advantages that I do not have because they didn’t seem significant. It was a foolish decision because the people who were offered the positions grossly exaggerated their abilities and accomplishments, while I was simply being honest.
But, it is not that I missed out on what I thought were perfect roles for me that bothers me most, it is that these are leadership positions and many people have been negatively impacted by the outcome. I am not advocating that you should lie to assert yourself, but you should assume that another candidate is at least, exaggerating the truth. If the position is a perfect fit for you, if you have worked hard to get it, and if others will be impacted by the outcome, it is your responsibility to shine. Others are counting on you.
I have been told more than once “if you don’t like the conversation, change it.” When asked about my weaknesses I should have immediately changed the conversation to discussing my strengths and how I am going to help the company resolve their weaknesses.
Finally, the biggest mistake that I made was I doubted myself. I underestimated my experiences, my abilities, and my determination to overcome challenges. Never again! Please learn from my experiences and do not allow your inexperience in a certain area be the focus of the conversation. You have too much to offer to focus on what you have not yet done.
We all have challenges that we have taken on and overcome. I encourage you to use your challenge as motivation and examples of your strength. My daily challenge is diabetes and it has been for the past 24 years. Successfully living with diabetes has taught me that there is no challenge too large to overcome. In the future, the next time I am asked about my weaknesses or inexperience, my answer will focus on how I overcome the daily challenges of diabetes, how diabetes helped make me a more successful person by requiring me to perform every single day, how diabetes has made me a stronger person by pushing me to my limits, and how diabetes is my unique advantage that cannot be matched. Next time I will shine when others are counting on me! I promise.