Strengths & Weaknesses

SumoI was talking to the son of a friend this weekend who is going off to the military and ended up giving him some advice that I thought is good for everyone to hear, at any age & point in life. It is about strengths & weaknesses.

I know there is a ton written on this topic, but what I was telling him is that we all judge. As much as I hate it, it seems to be a natural thing to do. So I tried to help him be a little more conscious about it when he’s doing it, especially in two particular cases regarding strengths & weaknesses.

I told him that mean, petty people judge other people on their weaknesses and themselves on their strengths. Essentially, they deem themselves better, or someone else worse, because they ignore their own weaknesses & the other’s strengths in their evaluation. This is particularly obvious in politics. I told him this was petty and I was glad I had never seen him do this.

But the main thing I wanted to talk to him about was really the opposite of this–namely, judging ourselves by our weaknesses and others by their strengths. I told him that we ALL feel insecure, and we all feel insufficient based on our weaknesses, and we all think “they” have it together because we are looking at their strengths. I also told him that even adults don’t have this figured out, so don’t beat himself up about it.

I then said that by being aware of it, he would at least be ahead in the game of life. I told him rather than getting down on himself when he does it, instead, play a game with himself. The example I gave him is when he’s laying in bed at night (or on his cot!), think about what happened during the day, how he was feeling, or what he was thinking, and pretend instead that he KNEW he was underestimating himself and overestimating others. And then, imagine what he would be doing, thinking or feeling if he *actually* felt the opposite way, and ranked himself more capable, or at least as capable, as those around him, rather than inferior to them. I told him over time, if he played this game, it would change how we views the world.

Finally, I let him know that not only do I NOT have this figured out, but in fact I’m playing the same game! In different areas of my life I have played this game and it has really worked wonders. In my phone calls, conversations, and even getting myself to do things that many people find uncomfortable (and which I found uncomfortable, originally), it has, over time, completely changed my outlook and therefore behavior for the better.

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