Consequences of Uncontrolled Weaknesses
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8 August 2013 - 23:48, by , in Leadership, No comments

There is a Texaco convenience store near my house that has not changed its gas price in eight weeks. While other stations around town change prices almost daily, the storeowner stays at $1.49 per gallon, even when the 7-11 down the street is higher or lower.

Why doesn’t the storeowner change prices? I came up with the following possible reasons:

  • He’s lazy.
  • He’s got excess inventory of expensive gas.
  • He’s changed the pump but forgotten to change the sign.
  • He’s embarrassed or scared to climb a ladder to change the sign.
  • He’s dwelling on the past success of $1.49, even though competitors are selling at $1.33 gallon.
  • He’s greedy.
  • He’s undisciplined, never checking his cost or what competition is doing.

This is a list of weaknesses. If left unchecked, the consequences can be deadly for his business.

Everyone has a weakness. You or your organization may share one of the weaknesses with the Texaco storeowner. Or possibly your weakness is overeating, greed, riding a dead horse, pornography, over committing, succumbing to terrorism, overstaying your welcome, anger, refusing to change, unbridled optimism, crowd-based logic, procrastination, prevailing pessimism, pride, lust, can’t say no, credit cards, defending a losing product line, helping everyone, or poor stewardship.

Weakness always hits first in our mind. “Indulging in your weakness will never satisfy you.” Left unchecked, uncontrolled weaknesses destroy you, your family and your organization. The consequences of an uncontrolled weakness – typically things that you ignore or disavow – lead to unwanted, unattractive and unintended results. Conversely, acknowledging and controlling your weakness can lead to wanted, attractive and intended results.

To counter the negative impact of an uncontrolled weakness, every person or organization should take steps to counter with strength. Here are five strong solutions for an uncontrolled weakness:

Solutions for an Uncontrolled Weakness

  • Yell it, Spell it…In high school we had a football cheer that started “yell it, spell it”. That’s sound advice for dealing with your weakness. Admit the weakness. Confess it, even if only to God. I wrote down my weaknesses last year … yes, I admit to having several. Spend time in thought. Write down goals and action plans to minimize your weakness and promote your strengths. “Honesty leads to confession and confession leads to change.”
  • Don’t go there…Stay away from places that break down your resistance to the weakness. If your weakness is overeating, stay away from the all-you-can-eat buffet! If it’s greed, let someone else do the budget or manage the finances. If it’s pornography, install an Internet filter. An invitation to participate in competitive bidding or a reverse auction sounds like an appealing opportunity to increase sales. But if your cost system is weak, lacking the financial facts of an Activity Based Costing system, don’t go bidding at the auction! You could end up committing a costly mistake.
  • Iron sharpens Iron… I love to watch the TV LandÒ channel. They feature old westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Most men identify with the American icon of the lone cowboy, riding into town to run out the bad guys. Confident. Independent. Self-reliant. The image of the lonesome hero makes for good drama, but real life is much different. Men and women need other men and women … for support, guidance, encouragement and accountability. Each of us needs reliable, trusted, wise, caring people to point out our weaknesses. If sharpening our awareness to our weakness is left undone, we become dull and ineffective. Make it a priority this week to find someone to point out your weakness … a coach, consultant, counselor or close friend.
  • Get your front-end aligned…Nothing wears out a set of tires faster than driving with the front-end out of alignment. The same holds true for people and organizations. There is a costly consequence when driving towards a worthy goal with your mind pointed at an uncontrolled weakness. Ask yourself the three Hedgehog Concept questions made popular in Jim Collins’ Good to Great: What are we passionate about? What are we good at? What drives our economic engine? If there is no common answer to all three questions, your life or company needs a front-end alignment.
  • Nothing Doing…Develop a habit of giving things away. Simplifying exposes and eliminates wasteful weaknesses. Consider the advice posed in Thomas Merton’s poem “Nothing Doing” …
  • Some of us need to
discover that we will not
begin to live more
fully until we have the
courage to do and see
much less than usual

Someone once said, “Adversity introduces a person to himself.” It saddens me to see fewer and fewer customers at my neighborhood Texaco. Painfully, it appears that the owner is learning about himself by paying the consequences of an uncontrolled weakness.

I recall an old advertising slogan, “You can trust your care to the man who wears the star.” I doubt this storeowner wears a star any more. And his actions … or inactivity … certainly don’t engender trust.

“It is a sobering picture of the crossroads at which you may be standing.” [1] Don’t ignore your weakness, assuming no one notices. People will drive by your crossroads today watching the decisions you make. You need to take a look too. Sometimes a person’s (or corporation’s) greatest strength is being able to spot their own weakness. Those who are unaware of their weakness, or ignore them, never reach their potential. Admit your weakness and choose the road to improvement.

 

(1) Called to Greatness, Ron Hutchcraft, Moody Press, 2001

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Tom Pryor
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