When I Am Weak, Then I Am Weak
We spend too much time focused on our weaknesses.
So says author Tom Rath and the Gallup study that underpins StrengthsFinder 2.0: Discover Your Strengths.
When we focus on our weaknesses, notes Rath, we are less likely to be engaged and productive at work (might this also be true for school, church, marriage, friendship?).
Yet our culture idolizes the "underdog" (and maybe our faith does too, with an out-of-context application of "when I am weak, then I am strong"). Rath says that movies like Rudy— about a guy with no talent for football who eventually gets to play in the game— feed this view of the superiority of the underdog. But, he says, is it really worth it for Rudy to have spent thousands of hours of practice to make one play, in one game?
Better that Rudy be directed to enhance his strengths. Not so interesting as a movie, perhaps, but better.
Rath's book comes with access to an on-line test, so you can find your strengths and begin to make the best of them. I'm not sure we all need to take the test. But I wonder how this alteration in perspective might change how we manage, teach, and relate.
For instance, does everybody on the team and everybody in the schoolroom really need to be trained in everything? Or can we just admit that so-and-so would make a better singer than a mathematician and adjust our approach accordingly?
Thinking on this, I wondered if our concept of the Renaissance Man (and woman :) has also led us to try to be strong in everything, even our weaknesses, rather than strengthening our strengths. We might not get to play tuba (or football) then, but since our lives aren't the movies, maybe that would be better in the end.
Names Tree photo, by L.L. Barkat.