I’m paid to help people through their weaknesses. It’s positive when we break through a problem, I see or hear the relief, and maybe become friends. It’s negative because I am constantly criticized by others. My customers want it done quicker, my team doesn’t want to deal with it, and management doesn’t want to deal with it. Dealing with friction has helped me realize my strengths and weaknesses. Here’s the framework of what I learned:
I am good at what’s easiest for me to do.
During a forced sabbatical from this technical support career, I picked up odd jobs: home improvement, back-end retail, and et cetera. It was good to develop other skills, meet new people, empathize, and get petty cash. I’m acceptable with a jackhammer. I can paint well enough, though I couldn’t convince anyone to hire me. I can move stuff, along with anyone without physical impairments. They whip you in retail. Computer recycle is also hard work.
I gravitated back toward what was the least frictive.
Within this field, I’m right in the middle. I have enough experience where I get bored with the basics, and I’ve refused every offer to progress into advanced work, because the intermediate work is “just right.” There’s enough challenge and friction in this mid-tier work to remain interesting, without the challenge I’ve encountered with advanced brainbusters in a field that I’m only in for the money, some life experience, and until my authoring boat sails.
Knowing my own weaknesses is my strength.
When people tell me about DHCP and OSPF jargon at that pace people use when communicating highly technical information, my mind drifts to “The Story,” or maybe chiseling away at some writer’s block? While I have the capacity for understanding, which may explain the constant exposure, troubleshooting servers and networks is not how I want to spend my time. That would squander my life’s potential. Others can dig into that high stress, high pay world.
So what’s a good framework to try for you?
- What do you do well?
- What do you do poorly?
- What’s easiest for you?
- What’s hardest for you?
- What leaves you feeling the happiest?
Those 5 questions should lead you to your most intuitive work.
The above photograph shows a mixed media sculpture, featuring my childhood dog Patrick, and embraces my artistic weaknesses. Writing is my artistic strength. I’m most confident in communicating my thoughts using words. While I can draw, paint, and create sculptures well enough, it’s not my passion, so I embrace that innate weakness of being disinterested in spending more time than necessary to create something. Why try to hide that? Just make your work good enough.
That’s the same for any profession.
It’s a strength to find work that pays acceptably, inspires your passion to keep at it for hours, and which you might occasionally do for free. Why compromise that strength to improve some weakness? For more money?
You’ll only be paid more in the short term and you’ll be miserable.