Strengths & Weaknesses
The last day of school I got home early enough to catch a few minutes of Oprah. I think I may be glad I missed most of the show, but just caught the first few minutes. It has given me several days to have some original thoughts about the topic, and possibly saved me from being disappointed at the direction actually taken on the show. Regardless, it served as a thought provoking trigger.
As I remember it, the show first featured several women who seem overcome with their lives as they are - largely due to family, jobs, and the combination thereof. The guest was going to guide them to some place of sanity, I think, but here is the part that got me before I left to go to the store . . . He said that most people misinterpret their strengths and weaknesses because they are defining "strength" and "weakness" incorrectly. We tend to think that our strengths are those things we do well, and weaknesses are those things at which we basically suck. Wrong! says our guest. A strength is something that actually strengthens you, and a weakness is something that - you guessed it - weakens you. You may be good at it, but doing it weakens you. It reminds me of the Myers-Briggs introvert vs. extrovert. Introverts aren't necessarily shy, and can appear to others to be very extroverted (I'm one of those introverts incognito), but it is in being alone that an introvert is able to "recharge" and become energized. Whereas the extrovert needs to be in a crowd of people to regain their energy.
So . . . back to our Oprah guest (and I'm sorry I didn't watch it long enough to catch his name or his book that I'm sure he has written, but check out her webiste, and I'm sure we can discover that easily enough). His recommendation was that people track their activities for a period of time, carrying green cards and red cards with them. Anytime you completed an activity that left you feeling weaker, you were to write it on the red card; stronger, and you wrote it on the green card. Theoretically, at the end of this period of time, you would be able to identify more clearly those things which strengthened and weakened you (and make appropriate changes if possible).
It has prompted a lot of thought for me. A year or so ago I determined that "just because I can, doesn't mean that I should." And that has proven to be a wise avenue. I think it ties in with this new concept. So often we take on (or are asked to take on) things because folks know we can do it - and do it well. And we feel we should because it must be a strength if we can do it so well, right? Then why do these things tap our energy and deprive us of the real joy and energy we feel in completing something that truly strengthens us?
The Frau and I usually have breakfast out on Saturday mornings, and it is often a good time for philosophical discussion. This was our focus this week and I think we are both trying to dig deeper to identify what really strengthens us at this point in our lives. She even suggested taking it a step further and identifying what you would do if you only had a year left to live. Clearly, we would want to choose those things that would strengthen us most in that year. We both really like our jobs. We're both good at our jobs. Neither of us would continue in our jobs if we had a year left to live. Interesting . . .