Few things can be as counter-productive in life as investing lots of time doing the wrong things. While this seems like common sense, it is hardly common practice.
Albert Einstein quipped,
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Similarly, in their classic book, Soar with Your Strengths, authors Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson share a fable about “Animal School” highlighting a rabbit who’s forced by his teachers to spend more time swimming since he is already good at running. In fact, the teacher even arranges for the rabbit to skip running class and have two periods of swimming instead.
Can you relate to this?
If we didn’t know better, particularly after years of schooling, it would be easy for us to absorb the message that the key to a successful life is through weakness-fixing. If we follow this advice and strive to become less weak at our weaknesses, however, we’ll just become weaker at our strengths.
This plan should not be followed. Don’t be so concerned about becoming well-rounded that you don’t develop your own distinct edges.
This strategy can provide you with an invaluable advantage for the rest of your life.
Virtually all world-class athletes follow the strengths principle. This means they emphasize the best parts of their game more than the worst part. For example, most PGA golfers invest their practice time reinforcing their strengths, not repairing their weaknesses.
If a specific weakness, such as hitting out of sand traps, might cost them the tournament they address it to a minimum level. But they know that champions are created from strength-building, not from weakness-fixing.
Of course, if you are a seven year old boy and haven’t yet learned to read, but happen to be a really fast runner, reading is still a weakness that might cost you the tournament.
Clearly, the key takeaway is not to ignore your weaknesses altogether, but rather to emphasize your strengths. You can achieve this by first discovering your strengths and putting them into practice to accomplish your goals and God’s will for your life.
Remember, it is no accident that you are really good at some things and not so good at other things. The same is true for everyone else.
God made you extraordinary at certain stuff for a reason. He infused your DNA at creation with particular talent because those gifts line up with His plans for your life. You are also ordinary at a lot of things as well. Get used to it. Be glad for it. It’s part of God’s plan.
And, the ordinary list will always be longer than the extraordinary list because there are far too many areas of opportunity, and there are lots of other people in this world who are really extraordinary in the areas where you are only ordinary. If you spend a lot of time on the ordinary stuff, you will sacrifice a bunch of your potential.
This is all part of God’s plan. Think about it. If you were exceptional at everything, there would be lots of unnecessary people just hanging out, clogging up the highways and taking up bandwidth. Many of your current peers and future competitors will water down their own potential by doing too many things that God created other people to do.
This is a mistake you do not need to make.
Here’s the cool thing. Since God made us as relational beings, he designed us for collaboration. He created billions of people to partner with Him to accomplish His plan for the world. I don’t understand exactly how this works, but I know He gives us roles and missions to fulfill on the tight deadline we call our lifetime.
His purpose for your life coincides with your gifts and talents, and when you pursue your God-implanted mission, you can be sure that the mission God has for your life coincides with your gifts, talents, and passions.
Remember, your strengths bless others!