There is something to be said for seeking to shore up one’s weaknesses in order to become a well-rounded person. I know this is true because the better I get at improving on my weaknesses the happier my wife gets. However, in a professional context I think that the thing to be said is, “Thpppppbbbbbt.” It’s all well and good to try to learn new skills that might help you in your day to day tasks but at some point you have to focus on what you’re good at or you’ll never achieve anything truly great. Excellence is found at the intersection of passion and talent.
During a yoga class recently I noticed some pain in my right shoulder while executing what amounts to a negative push-up (starting at the high point of a push-up and slowly lowering my body to the mat). Before my next repetition, though, my instructor used this entry’s title phrase, “Find your strength.” As I lowered myself down again I flexed all of the large muscles in my chest and around my shoulder and, low and behold, pain free! As I have reflected on that I have found the same principle holds true in other areas of life. For example, the more I focus on writing, one of my strengths, I find that I am becoming more disciplined with my use of time, one of my weaknesses. By giving myself an outlet for something that I love to do, I have also given myself a reason to set aside things that waste my time.
As a newlywed (just over 18 months now) and new father, I have found myself in lots and lots of frustrating situations where I just don’t know what to do. There is so much to learn about the women in my life, so many details to keep track of (I’m more of a big picture person), that at times it can all get a bit overwhelming. So lately I’ve been trying to play to my strengths instead – working around the house, making goofy faces at my daughter, laughing and talking with my wife on the phone. I’ve noticed two results: First, because I am operating in a comfort zone, I am in a more positive frame of mind when I think about my family and that positive attitude has helped to reduce the number of involuntary things that I do that can cause friction. Second, because I am focusing on the things I can do well rather than the things with which I struggle, I am generally more relaxed and operating at a less frantic pace which makes it easier to remember to put the seat down.
I started this entry talking about work and I’ll wrap it up on that subject as well. I realize very, very well that we don’t all have the freedom to drop everything in pursuit of our dream job. However, I think it is worth the time to look at where we are and think strategically about how we can play to our strengths more in our day to day work. Sometimes this may mean taking on some side projects, I know it has for me, but I have found that these projects energize me and make me better at the other, less appealing, aspects of my job. I have also found that the more I delve into forming closer relationships with my co-workers (a strength) the easier it is to stay motivated (a weakness). Finding your strength at work doesn’t necessarily mean looking for a new position, it means flexing your muscles to make the position you are in less painful and more exhilarating.