Looking back on your life, which of your major weaknesses have you successfully overcome and how?
What we define as strengths and weaknesses seems to depend very much on context, and contexts often change over time.
It seems to me that I am the result of the combinations of experiences and choices in my life.
I got born with my particular genetics and family and into a particular place, and have had the experience I have, and made of them as I have.
So often what appeared as disaster at the time, has turned out days or decades later to have been of huge value, and conversely sometimes what seemed like great fortune has come with huge downstream costs.
It now seems clear to me that so much of life is simply random, unpredictable, and we make of it what we do. We make our best guesses, and proceed.
So in that context – what is a weakness?
Is it strength to be so firm in the face of a force that one breaks?
Is it weakness to bend in a flow and avoid breaking, so that one can come back to chosen shape when the context allows?
What is strength, what is weakness?
When I was a small child I was tongue tied. A small flap of skin under my tongue prevented it from reaching the roof of my mouth, so an “r” sound was impossible for me to make. Few people could understand my attempts at speech. I was about 5 when that was cut, and it took several years for me to learn how to make an “r” sound reliably. I was teased, bullied, excluded. Yet without that experience to temper my arrogance at my own abilities, I doubt I would have developed the compassion I have for others.
I have a brain that is strongly intuitive, and very fast. It allows me to do things in seconds that would take me years to explain to another person, if I could explain it at all.
That childhood experience left me intensely shy of others.
To actively counter that I intentionally involved myself in groups, and entered into politics.
For an intensely shy person to force themselves to meet 500 new people a day for 6 weeks is not easy.
Also as a child, my feet pointed outwards at about 30 degrees. Running was slow, painful and difficult.
In my early teens I consciously chose to straighten my legs, and practiced every day, for a couple of hours, bending my feet back to straight, and forcing my knees outwards, and slowly, over two years, it became normal, and my walking comfort and running speed started to significantly improve.
At 15 I had the smallest recorded lung capacity in my year-group at school. With practice, and nightly breathing exercises, over 5 years I increased it by a factor of 4.
I have studied to overcome my ignorance, and in the process turned all of my certainties into probabilities.
I started on a journey for absolute knowledge, and on the way came to accept that such a thing is almost certainly illusory.
I started thinking that knowledge, Truth, was possible, and along the way came to an understanding of the Buddhist saying “That for the master, on a path worth walking, for every step on the journey, the path gets two steps longer.” Such seems to be the nature of infinity.
So I am not at all certain what my weaknesses are, or were.
I am that I am, and to some limited degrees I have some awareness of what that is. That seems to be about as much as any of us can hope for.
To the best of my limited abilities, I do with them what seems to me most appropriate.