Many years ago SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) was a hot buzzword in Business circles. Like all buzzwords, it has been replaced with newer phrases. But its validity as a business toll remains. Its effectiveness as a tool for the businessman to analyze himself is in unparalleled. That is called Self SWOT.
Self SWOT refers to increasing a person’s level of self-awareness and understanding of his abilities. Self SWOT applies this understanding to dealing with situations. It enables you to use your strengths to the best in solving problems while at the same time finding ways to protect yourself from your own weaknesses which may adversely affect the outcome you are striving for.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Being able to know what you have in your personal armory to attack a problem is half the battle won. Being able to appreciate the opportunities and threats that surround you means you are always poised to either grab a chance or fight off competition.
Most people look at their strength in terms of their abilities, experiences and knowledge acquired. It is far more than these. Your strengths can come from your family background, personal traits such as a sense of humor or a personal moral code and even physical strength that allows you to work for long hours.
Knowing your strengths takes time since everyone has latent talents that come to light only in specific circumstances. Also, strength is not always a strength. It depends on the circumstances. For example, a tightly focused single-minded approach to problem-solving is a good approach when working alone, but will not pay dividends when working as part of a team.
These are not so easy to identify as one may think. It requires a lot of objectivity on the part of the individual. As with strength, a weakness in one situation may not be so in another. Sympathy is a strength when dealing with colleagues who have problems but may not be a good thing for a team leader who needs to be focused exclusively on results. When dealing with a situation you need to know what your weaknesses are and protect yourself from allowing these to affect the outcome you want.
Even the biggest problem have opportunities in them. The trick is to be able to search for them and when found, recognize what you have. For example, a drop in the demand for your products may adversely affect your finances, but the extra time it gives you could be spent in improving your business processes which will, in the future, protect you from such occurrences.
A businessman will always have threats to his business and profits. As long as he recognizes them, he will find a way to deal with them. But he needs to go beyond this. He has to keep searching for threats and be aware of the possibilities and not just the obvious ones. This is not being paranoid. It is just being prepared so as to reduce the chances of being caught off guard by the unexpected.