“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
~Tao Te Ching
By: Martin Grunburg
Today’s post is about YOU. Not, as it were last week, about WHO, but YOU: the individual. It’s about knowing and understanding yourself, in particular, your strengths and your weaknesses.
Last week we learned a priceless personal development lesson shared by Ben Franklin (left behind in his autobiography) where he wrote, “I hope, therefore that my descendants shall follow the example and reap the benefit.” Ben provided a great deal of proof (and even a process) that demonstrated we can choose WHO we’d like to BEcome. BTW: If you missed that post, I recommend you check that out now so we’re on the same page. ; )
This week, though, we are focusing on who you are right now, today!
The process of becoming something is just like the goal-achievement process: It begins with an honest assessment and understanding of WHERE you are — your starting point.
Therefore, to get the most out of your life YOU ought to have a good understanding of who you are, what you are, and (most importantly, I think) your individual strengths and weaknesses.
While there is a great deal of hype in the personal development world these days that directs its audience toward ignoring their weaknesses and simply focusing on and affirming their strengths, I do not wholeheartedly subscribe to that thought process.
Before I share why, I’d like for us (you and me) to perform a quick exercise. Let’s both write out our Top 5-7 strengths, and then we’ll ORDER them:
Now, here is what I consider mine:
creativity (connecting disparate ideas/things), strategy, relationships, achievement, individualist, visionary/futurist, positivity
I recognize that “individualist” and “relationships” are likely to seem a bit contradictory. Here’s my explanation: I do enjoy working alone AND with people, and I often find myself building bridges, helping to patch up issues and miscommunications between people who aren’t otherwise totally compatible.
Here’s where I think this gets interesting:
According to the book StrengthFinder, and after taking its extensive personality/strengths survey, here are what it says are my top five strengths, in order: Strategy, Relator, (Achiever), Futurist, (Positivity).
Now, do you notice the two strengths that are in parentheses and bold? Do you care to guess why I’ve highlighted those that way?
Here’s the answer: THESE AREAS USED TO BE WEAKNESSES.
For what you might call the first half of my adult life, I clearly recall bragging often and to anyone who’d listen as to why being a pessimist was the best way to go through life. “If the best didn’t turn out,” I would reason, “I wouldn’t be disappointed!”
Around the same time, perhaps not coincidentally (now that I give it some thought), I was often depressed, frustrated and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t achieve my goals!
The good news is, at least I would set them. I would get excited. I would write them down and buy programs that would teach me how to achieve my goals, and I even followed the S.M.A.R.T. Goals process, all to no avail. It seems that year after year I’d land right back at square one, with zero accomplished, no significant changes, and ultimately be more depressed and frustrated. The ONLY real change was that I was another year older!
Now, here’s a critical point: Both character traits — originally areas of weakness — turned into positives through the cultivation of the right habits. Again, these are my “strengths,” according to the StrengthFinder analysis!
This transformation could NOT have happened had I simply ignored my weaknesses.
Further: Here’s the incredible thing, from my perspective: The Habit Factor® app and book would not exist, nor its worldwide impact, had I not changed these areas of weakness into areas of strength.
Bottom line: You are totally unique, just like a little beautiful snowflake* ; ) And, it’s important to know that each beautiful snowflake is uniquely flawed. Not as a liability or some deformity, but rather as a powerful gift. Not something to obsess over or become depressed by, but rather a GIFT that with some attention, energy and refinement will, over time, become a magnificent strength.
You doubt this?
History is filled with such examples. Demosthenes, who had a speech impediment, turned into one of the great orators of ancient Greece. Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein were both considered “slow” and poor students, while modern day sports heroes like Stephen Curry and Tom Brady were both characterized by “experts” as NOT likely to excel as professionals due to their numerous weaknesses.
The Gift then, is IN the weakness, but only when you have the courage to address it and the belief to know that, given time, it will become a powerful strength.
Until next week,
P.S.: Now it’s time to list your 3 greatest weaknesses. __________,_________,____________.
Now circle a “weakness” that you could turn into a great strength – if you addressed it right away. Imagine how creating that strength would transform your life five or ten years from now. Perhaps developing this strength would even set you free — mentally, emotionally, spiritually or, financially. Is it possible? You tell me… get after it!