Jay's World of Abstracts

Jay's World of Abstracts 00030

Soaring with your Strengths

from Don Clark
Excerpted from a book by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson

[Standard disclaimer: The nature of abstracts are that they are pieces of something larger. Not everyone is going to be happy with my choice of abstracts from any larger work, so if you are dissatisfied, I would refer you to the original document, which should be able to be found on the Internet. I encourage others to make their own abstracts to satisfy their needs. I would be happy to publish them here.

Jay's Introduction

In the midst of study and research on creating social organizations in our area to meet our needs, I stumbled upon this wonderful piece of work on how to manage strengths and weaknesses. Our culture is pervaded by the idea that we must be well-rounded in a variety of subjects to be competent. This is the philosophy that rules our schools and universities and is the assumption that most employers hire people based on. The idea presented in this abstract is that we should concentrate on our strengths and seek to manage our weaknesses. It is easy to see that many successful people follow this "new" idea and that "failure" in often only our cultural obsession with spending much or our time conquering our weaknesses. The point is to focus on what you are good at and to find ways to minimize your weaknesses. This abstract gives some good ideas of how to do this.

I produced this abstract using time paid for by the Quay County Maternal Child and Community Health Council with funds from the New Mexico Department of Health.


Let The Rabbits Run: A Parable

Some forest animals started a school to develop their children into well-rounded animals by teaching all of them running, swimming, hopping, and flying.

On the first day of school, the little rabbit excelled in hopping and running class and he loved school because he got to do what he loved to do and was good at. When the rabbit went to swimming class, he was afraid of the water like all rabbits, so he did not swim well. In flying class, he could not get off the ground. He felt like a failure. When the other animals laughed at him, he felt even worse.

When he went home, he was pretty depressed. He told his parents he wanted to quit school. They told him to stick with it since his future success in life depended on mastering all these skills and getting his diploma. The next day, he asked the school counselor for help with his problems. To help him improve in his problem areas, the counselor put him in extra swimming and flying classes (which he hated) and canceled his running and hopping classes (which he loved) ....this made him feel sick!

As he left the counselor's office, he met the wise old owl who said, "Life doesn't have to be this way. We could have schools and businesses where people are allowed to concentrate on what they do well."


Focus On Strengths and Manage the Weaknesses

To theorize that "anyone can do anything" assumes that all people are clones, possessing identical talents. This is false; each one of us is unique.

The winning coach of the Chinese Olympic Ping-Pong team described the team training regimen as practicing 8 hours daily to perfect strengths. Strengths that are maximized become so strong they overpower the weaknesses. "Our winning player plays only his forehand. Even though his competition knows he can't play backhand, his forehand is so invincible that it cannot be beaten."

The greatest chance for success lies in reminding people or organizations of an existing strength, and getting them to rely on their strengths while instituting a management strategy for their weaknesses. Individuals are always stronger when they have their successes and strengths clearly in mind.


How To Identify Your Strengths

A strength is a pattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings that produces high satisfaction and pride; generates psychic and/or financial reward; and presents measurable progress toward excellence. Here are some signs of strengths:

Find Out What You Do Not Do Well and Stop Doing It

For every strength, we possess roughly 1,000 non-strengths. This ratio says it's a huge waste of time to even try to fix all of our weaknesses.

Weaknesses can't change into strengths, but we can MANAGE them to make them irrelevant while we develop our strengths. When your best efforts get you nowhere, redirect the same energy to a strength. Most weaknesses can't and don't need to be corrected any more than a doctor needs to repair an enlarged appendix....the best thing to do is take swift action to remove the weakness.

How To Identify Your Weaknesses

A weakness is a pattern of behavior, thoughts, and feelings that produces low satisfaction or pride; drains psychic and financial resources; and presents little or no measurable progress toward excellence no matter how hard we try. Weaknesses reduce productivity or lessen self-esteem. Here are some signs of weaknesses:

Strategies For Managing Weakness

What Does This Mean To You

Are we saying that people never change? Or that weaknesses are constant? Typically, yes. There are always exceptions and dramatic transformations can take place.

Once you identify a weakness and implement a management strategy for it, you are virtually free of its negative effect on your life. And, you have extra energy to devote to building your strengths.

Managing our weaknesses allows our strengths to overpower them, ultimately making the weakness irrelevant.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

The recipe for success is to empower strengths through the right expectations.

When you know your strengths, you set your internal goals so you can use these strengths to get what you want and need. Goals remain dreams until you share them with someone who cares about you. Your expectations gain power when others embrace these expectations of you and line up with you.

Don't look to change the expectations and attitudes of others, look for the right alignment from the beginning. Play to the strengths of others in picking carefully who to partner with. This is win-win for both of you. An Olympic hopeful wants to pick the best coach available, one who believes in his ability to perform at Olympic levels. He would not consider retaining a coach who thought he did not have what it takes to win....even if the coach was top-notch.

Your internal expectations and the external expectations of others are aligned when others expect you to do what you want to do. When these are not aligned, you feel resistance, fatigue, and stress because you feel it's impossible to meet those expectations. It's not that anyone is right or wrong; the expectations simply don't fit you. Nothing happens until someone expects something of you that you can achieve.

Food For Thought

If managing our weaknesses allows our strengths to overpower them, ultimately making the weaknesses irrelevant and aligning our expectations with our strengths creates success, then does failure truly exist, or is it simply an inaccurate match of expectations and strengths?

Or could it be that people are not successes or failures but simply functioning in the right or wrong expectation environment?

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