Think about it! If someone came up to you right now and said “tell me what your strengths are.” You’d probably struggle to come up with more than just a few pat answers like “I’m kind, I’m loving, I have a good sense of humor, I’m especially good at expectorating! ” Right?
However, if that same person said “tell me your weaknesses,” you can probably rattle off a pretty long list of substantial things, like “I struggle with self-esteem, I’m not good a math, I’m afraid of failing, I worry too much about what other people think of me,” and the list can go on.
We can easily list our weaknesses because we’ve been taught to identify the weaknesses in our lives so we can try to improve them. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to improve our weaknesses. I’m just saying it’s an inappropriate focus.
We tend to focus on the negative things in our lives, rather than on the positive. How many times did you come home from school with several good grades and one or two bad grades on your report card? What got the most attention? I bet you remember the criticisms more than the praises!
The better approach to our lives is to know what we are good at and to strengthen our strengths. In other words, know what you know, and know what you don’t know. Spend more time doing the things and getting better at the things you know and let other people handle the things you don’t know or aren’t good at.
I don’t need to be good at accounting–I can hire an accountant. I know I’m not a good golf player, so I don’t spend hours a week trying to become one!
I know I’m a good writer, so I work on trying to become a better writer. I know I’m good at encouraging other people to become better, so I try to do that more intentionally. I know I’m a good father, so I spend more energy trying to become better in that area of my life.
I’ve found that as I focus my energy on the positive things in my life, internally and externally, the negative things, somehow, become less negative or, at least, less important.
So my advice to you and to myself, everyday, is to know what you know; know what you are good at; know your strengths; know what makes you great (and everyone is great at something!) and focus your energy on those things. Look for the positive in yourself and in others and you’ll probably find it!