You can’t be anything you want to be

You can't be anything you want to be

“You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” Tom Rath in StrengthsFinder 2.0

The world misses out when we cast our strengths aside and focus on improving our weaknesses, yet this is what we’re trained to do from a young age.

According to StrengthsFinder 2.0, “From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths.”

If you struggled with any subjects in school, your parents and teachers likely stressed improvement in your weak area more than they encouraged growth in your strong subjects.

My parents did both, and I thank them for it. They helped me invest extra time in math (against my will) with tutors and summer workbooks, but they also enrolled me in a summer writing workshop while I was still in elementary school.

Even with the added encouragement, my weakness in math definitely felt like a bigger deal than my strength in writing.

Applying energy toward weaknesses may make us competent or mediocre at best. Energy applied to natural talent yields much more dramatic results.

We aren’t born with any strengths. A strength is a natural inclination or talent that we nurture and invest in over time. In other words, a strength emerges when work and time build on a natural ability.

Here’s how Rath defines a strength:

Talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving) X Investment (time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base) = Strength (the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.)

It’s easy to discount our strengths and covet someone else’s. There are a thousand and one things I see other people excel at and wish I did, too.

When we watch other people do things well, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that we do well. It’s easy to feel behind, like we need to catch up to this person who’s getting it right.

The truth is, someone else’s strength doesn’t negate or trump mine. If we work together, our strengths can supplement each other’s.

When you take the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment, it recommends partnerships based on your strengths. For example, one of my top strengths is responsibility, so it suggests I partner with someone talented in discipline or focus to keep me on track and help me avoid overcommitment.

What if we press into the things we naturally enjoy and do well and look for help with our weak areas instead of trying to do it all?

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

Do you spend too much time improving weaknesses instead of honing strengths? Have you taken the Strengths Finders assessment? What are your strengths?

This post is part of a 31 day series on “doing less to build more.” To read the other posts in this series, click here.

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One thought on “You can’t be anything you want to be

  1. this is so true– we tend to focus on what we are not, instead of what we are. i never thought i was smart, because i wasn’t good at math. yet i excelled at writing and reading– even though my parents encouraged me, there was something that told me that my failure was something i needed to focus on

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