We have heard about this popular tool called ‘SWOT’. For the uninitiated, it is an acronym for ‘Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats.’
I learned this in my Marketing syllabus and is quite universally applicable, It is actually quite useful but its usefulness is also its greatest Weakness.
No, I am not going to tear well used management tool apart, the thing that struck me is the Strength/Weakness (S/W) duality.
When we look at the S/W, what are we interpreting?
S/W is mutually antagonist
This way we are saying that whatever strengths we have, we can use it to overcome our weakness. so when we learn that we are, say, weak in mathematics, can use our superiority in English to overcome it? maybe if we better our English we can better comprehend the problem sum and once we understand it better, we can better solve the problem? What about algebra?
Or in the realm of fitness, because we are good joggers, does that help us in our weakness in swimming? Does running a lot helps in our aqua skills? We become so strong in what we are good at that eventually it will cancel out our weakness. Really?
S/W is complementary
In this case, there is no difference, Strength is Weakness and Weakness is Strength. Sounds kinda Zen, huh? So which is which and what is what?
Let’s make a sweeping statement, swimming, jogging, in-line-skating, basket ball, tennis, are all fitness, if you are good in one you are relatively good in all, if you are weak in one, well, somehow it don’t quite make sense, does it?
It does to a certain degree. our strengths can blind us from our weakness, and our strengths has weaknesses. When we concentrate too much in our strengths we might risk running into the proverbial ‘All the eggs in one basket’ scenario. Which of course we try not to. We become strong so good at doing one thing, we cannot do other things. What good then is a one hit wonder?
S/W are exclusive
What you are weak in, is what you are weak in, do something about it. What you are strong in, is what you are strong in, don’t be cocky about it. You cannot use your strengths to overcome your weakness, and your weakness has no effect your strengths.
So no matter how good you are, you can never cancel out your weakness with your strengths, and no matter how weak you are in one aspect, it will have nothing to do with your strengths, in a detrimental manner.
Apparently, it is not as easy as it seems, the reason being so is because, on paper, theoretically speaking, it is all abstract. the proof of the pudding, is in the action of theory. The practicum part. If we are good weight lifters, that don’t mean we can win when we step into the Octagon. But relative, transferable strengths can help. A weight lifter might not thrive in the Octagon, but might survive.
So can we play it safe and have it all? Life ain’t a sweet all-rounder. A world-class sprinter, cannot play Wimbledon class tennis. But we still need to be good at something. How this S/W thing play out, really, really depends on how much your life depends on it.
And most importantly try not to be caught in a situation where your weakness is most exposed, and your strength is most useless. if that happens, dooms on you.