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Leading Ideas: Don’t Be Afraid to Show Shortcomings

“I always tell prospective clients about the chinks in our armor. I have noticed that when an antique dealer draws my attention to flaws in a piece of furniture, he wins my confidence.” — David Ogilvy (1911-1999), Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963) Consider This:

“I always tell prospective clients about the chinks in our armor. I have noticed that when an antique dealer draws my attention to flaws in a piece of furniture, he wins my confidence.”
— David Ogilvy (1911-1999), Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963)

Consider This:

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We all have insecurities. Things that we believe make us look bad or weak. Convinced that they’ll hold us back if exposed, we often go to great lengths to try to hide them. Rarely do we consider the opportunity we miss as a result. With the right perspective, our shortcomings aren’t liabilities – they’re assets. Exposing weaknesses takes strength. It shows confidence. Moreover, it’s a powerful way to ease tension, connect with others, build trust, and show your humanity. Not to mention it’s refreshing.

A client and close friend of mine is excellent at using shortcomings to his advantage. A serial entrepreneur, he’s started several successful companies. A few years ago, I happened to be with him on a significant sales call that had the potential to put his new company on the map. At one point the potential customer asked how well capitalized the company was. A lesser person might have danced around the issue, but my friend got right to point. He said, “To be honest our financial situation is not good, we’ve got 6 more weeks of operating capital and then we’re in trouble – I’m really hoping that a sale to you today can help us with cash flow.” The customer laughed and replied, “I thought that might be the case – I could see the desperation in your eyes – but I didn’t think you’d so readily admit it. Thank you for being so honest.” He ended up winning the business and the client later told him that his honesty was a big part of their decision.

Try this:

1. What are you insecure about?
2. Who do you try to hide it from?
3. What’s the cost of hiding it? stress? strained relationships?
4. Practice being more open about your daily struggles – perhaps starting small
5. In the process you’ll give others the permission to do the same – unlocking energy all around you.

Doug Sundheim • Executive Coach, New York City • dms@clarityconsulting.com

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