Understanding what you do well and where you can improve is the key to achieving your personal and professional goals. Dr. Tae Yun Kim, personal transformation expert and one of the first women in the world to become a martial arts grandmaster, credits inner power as the way to excel in anything you do. Curious about how she triumphed over uncertainty and honed her strengths, we caught up with Kim to learn how to better the parts of ourselves we may see as flaws.

Kim reminds us that we naturally like to show the best parts of ourselves. “We may think doing this makes us look better and means we’ll have a better life overall,” she says. But is it actually true? “To really put your best face forward, you must be willing to look at more than one part of yourself. You also need to look as deeply at your weaknesses — or your flaws — as you do your strengths and note, ‘I am a mixture of both.’”

Hopefully, you’ll find that doing this makes you feel more powerful. “Identifying and confronting your weaknesses is the first step in rising above them,” Kim explains. “You can’t take this step if you won’t admit that you have a flaw.” She tells us that it’s also important to realize that what you see as a weakness may actually just be a fear — this is especially common when it comes to trying something new, especially in instances where others may have led you to believe you won’t be good at something.

Ready to turn your weaknesses into strengths? Here are four ways to get started.

Woman flexing arms

1. Identify where you want to improve. It seems obvious, but being intentional and focused on the specific areas you want to improve is a crucial step. To do this, Kim suggests drafting a written list of 10 weaknesses. “Be objective when you do this rather than judging yourself,” she instructs. Then, next to each one, write the answer to these questions:

  • What quality could I develop that would negate my weakness and turn it into a strength that supports my well-being?
  • Are any of my perceived “weaknesses” really a fear (to do something or express a part of myself) because someone has told me that I am not good at that or can’t do it?
  • If so, what fear do I have that is based on someone else’s opinion? What steps can I take to overcome that fear and befriend it?

“Remember that having a weakness is okay and human! These will only drag you down when you let them define you. It’s only when you ignore or deny a weakness that it becomes a long-term stumbling block,” she says.

2. Face your fear. Understanding where your fear comes from is critical. “For a long time, I believed that one of my weaknesses was that I wasn’t able to swim. I almost drowned on a couple of occasions when I was young, and ever since then I was afraid of swimming,” Kim admits. “Not long ago, I decided to challenge the belief that I couldn’t swim, and I came to see that I could actually swim quite well. How did I find that out? I gave myself the chance to face that fear with the help of friends who believed in me. They were convinced that they could teach me how to swim, and their belief in me convinced me that I could do it.”

3. Get to the root of what’s holding you back. “It’s key to identify the ‘why’ behind your areas of weakness so you can work to strengthen them,” Kim says.“Be honest about what is holding you back so you can strengthen that aspect of your life.” Consider public speaking, for example. Does it fall onto your list of weaknesses because you had an embarrassing experience when you did it before? If so, understanding why can help you see that you may be a great speaker who simply needs more practice.

Once you know what your roadblock is, you can get to work on overcoming it through reading books on the topic, taking a class, finding a mentor, or tapping your social circle. “When others believe in you, their encouragement and support can literally energize you,” Kim explains. “We can ‘borrow’ another’s strength and expertise to help push us to the next level of mastery.”

4. Learn to view your mistakes as a necessary part of your progress. Improvement and growth come with mistakes, and according to Kim, they’re both natural and essential when it comes to moving forward. “Who cares how many mistakes you make? The object is to succeed, not count your errors,” she says. “The minute you decide to work toward achieving a goal that is important to you, you will make mistakes. In fact, without mistakes, you can’t be successful.” Having a tough time dealing with frustrations? Remind yourself that never making a mistake is probably impossible — but doing your best not to repeat it can help you along the way.

How are you overcoming your fears? Tell us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)