Written by Guest Blogger Pierre Stanley Baptiste
Desperate to fix our weaknesses? My goal in this post is to make a compelling case for why we should not focus on fixing our shortcomings.
For the past 4 years, you’ve been forcing yourself to master accounting. In high school, you hated math like a toddler throwing a tantrum before eating broccoli. You get distracted when people talk numbers, it makes your brain bleed frustration.
How many of us are in similar situation, desperate to fix our weaknesses?
My goal in this post is to make a compelling case for why we should not focus on fixing our shortcomings.
My strengths propel me higher
I went to a Catholic school where math was a sign of intelligence. If you could not do math, you were like a piece of sh*t.
Thus, I grew up with the desire to prove them wrong. I would often kill myself over math exercises. Staying up late for group work. I would get better for a few days, then I would go back to the “suck team” again. I envied my friends who were math wiz and wanted their attention.
In a hot summer day in Port-au-Prince, I met a stranger (now friend) who introduced me to writing, philosophy and thinking. I loved it, so I started writing crappy stuff I was proud of.
When I was in second grade, I would always get an A+ for poetry before reciting the poem. My strengths in communication go far back. I got my first standing ovation at eight years old. I moved a church of 400 people after reading the bible on my first communion day. To brag a bit, my mom was proud as hell.
Right in the middle of high school, I had my first identity crisis. I no longer wanted to conform. I gave up on math after years of struggles. I started to focus on philosophy, literature, redaction, probability (thinking), history, and biology. As proof, I scored 94 out of 300 for math in the state exam. I am probably in the 5% lowest score in the country, but I did pass!
Today, whenever I speak and write, I am alive and connected to my higher self. I have no problem investing long hours in reading, writing and getting help from friends to hone my craft. The act of playing with my strengths gives me legendary courage to keep going and to pursue mastery.
You’ll reach a plateau
There’s a way to do it better – find it. Thomas A. Edison
This quote makes more sense when we are operating from our strengths. There’s nothing bad about weakening our weaknesses. Yet, past a certain point, it’s a waste of time and energy. The confidence and mastery needed to better a weakness will reach a plateau. You can keep banging your head on the keyboard, but nothing will ever change.
It’s easy for me to get better at understanding basic accounting, but I will never gain a level of mastery. First, I hate it. Second, it’s not part of my core strengths.
Self-awareness is a spectacular advantage in a world that wants you to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Recognizing our strengths and weaknesses enables us to apply the right amount of time/energy to different tasks, without killing ourselves.
People who are self-aware don’t invest their energy on fixing their weaknesses. The time it takes to increase one’s strength is a better investment. When we look at the heroes of our world; they all have shortcomings and dark sides. They have so well-managed to light up their strengths that it has shattered their dark sides.
Play your own game
If you’re playing someone else’s game, you will never win, no matter how well you score. Technology makes it possible to influence a vast number of people, so it’s easier to get caught up in playing along with the precedents other people set.
When you aware of your shortcomings, you can’t afford to play by others’ rules. Your weaknesses are often so devastating that you cannot ignore them. If not managed, they will often strangle anyone who comes to you. In such a situation, the best strategy is to numb these weaknesses by developing strong habits and routines.
Playing your own game means picking the battles you want to fight. Be proactive and avoid putting yourself in situation where you shortcomings, rather than your strengths, guide your decisions and actions.
Thus, we need to maximize our time with people, places and activities where our strengths are staggering. The secret is to reinvent the rules to sustain our shortcomings. Our strengths are too important to let them fade.
As they say:
If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Use it at the right moment
Any weakness can become an advantage when used at the right time. If bandits attack you, your strength and anger would serve well in keeping you alive. Boxers are living examples of people who know when and how to use their anger issues.
We all want to connect with others on a deeper level. Playing the perfect man/woman is never the best way to accomplish this inspiring goal. In movies and books, we are more connected to the main character at his or her weakest moment. Only in these moments are we able to see ourselves in them.
These moments reveal to us their humanity. So, we realize, they are just like us.
We need you at your best
To paraphrase Ramit Sethi, the same world that wants everyone to be vanilla will reject you once you become it. There’s no place for the common in this crowded market. We are all looking for the remarkable. You have far more chance succeeding by investing in your strengths.
Your community, significant other, and children deserve your best. You cannot give them your best if you are too busy patching your every little weakness.
Your triumph lies in managing your shortcomings. Own them, but don’t operate from them.
We all have a toolbox filled with both amazing and bad tools. The value of our lives is not in the ratio of amazing tools versus bad. The value of our existence resides in the number of times we pull out these tools for a higher purpose.
Writer Pierre Stanley Baptiste: Founder/CEO of Impact Ayiti, Scarcity Coach, Award-winning Speaker. From cooking meager meals over fires made with pine cones in Haiti to studying business in the U.S, Pierre now teaches the art of leveraging scarcity in Creole and English at www.pierrestanleybaptiste.com and speaks about his experiences including recent engagements at universities.