Perhaps I am stronger than I think. Thomas Merton
Each of us is blessed with numerous qualities, skills and abilities which we often take for granted. However we find it very hard to recognize our strengths and acknowledge them, partly because we see ourselves as ordinary people and partly because we are modest to a fault. In fact human nature is such that we seek out those qualities that we wish we had and then we end up feeling sorry for ourselves that we are not blessed. Other times we are aware that we have some key strengths but we find it hard to acknowledge it, least we convey an impression of being pompous or haughty. In rare instances some of us who are very talented mistakenly compare our talents with that of the maestros in the field and conclude that we are woefully inadequate. The net result is that we undermine our strengths and do not leverage it to our advantage.
To understand our strengths we need to analyze our personality on 4 broad dimensions; the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual dimensions. There could be specific strengths under each of these broad dimensions that we need to study and the we have to put our own personal competencies in perspective. Eg. To be very creative education is not a prerequisite but our creativity can be enhanced by education. So even if we are not class toppers our ideas maybe one in a million. If one has to get a good self analysis done, the key is to be open and receptive to feedback from others. There are times when this can be very painful particularly when we are criticized unfairly or the honest truth is a bitter pill to swallow. Conversely, when we are lavished with praise we suspect that people are being sarcastic or too liberal with their judgment and we discount their honest feedback.
To leverage our strengths the key is self belief. If we do not trust our own abilities and mental strength to face competition and overcome it, we can never realize our full potential. All successes and victories are first conceptualized in the mind before they are achieved on the ground. It is therefore essential that we begin to accept that we are no ordinary mortal but someone special who has some very special skill sets and talents. In the movie the Rain man the protagonist suffers from a mental disability that makes him in a deviant from the societal point of view. Yet he has the rare ability of calculation which he himself is unaware of but is identified by others. Many of us are like Rain man with one vital difference we are not considered social misfits and we don’t have extraordinary gifts but we are simply not able to utilize our special strengths. E.g. We are very perceptive when we analyze data but we prefer to do some paper pushing job because we lack the confidence to use our analytical powers to take on more responsible assignments.
Can we develop self belief? The answer is a resounding yes but the path is not so easy. The key to self belief lies in our ability to accept failure as a part of the learning process and more importantly to believe that failure is not the end of the road but the critical fork on the road where we need to perhaps retrace our steps and take the right fork. When we let perceived failure or failure itself to dominate our thought process, we have lost the strength to bounce back. Self belief is all about bouncing back for no one ever succeeded without failing at least once.
Remember: “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” Stuart Chase
- Look back at the days gone by and list out the bravest things you did. Perhaps it was coming in as a tail ender and facing up to a terrifying pace balling in order to save your cricket team from losing a match or it could be not being pressurized into allowing someone to copy from your answer sheet in an exam or it could be severing a relationship that you were convinced was going nowhere and not giving into emotional blackmail. Did you realize then that these were examples of your real strength manifesting itself?
- List out 3 of your worst fears. Now choose one of them and make an attempt to overcome it. E.g. You are terrified of dogs. Now try to overcome this fear of dogs by going near a pet dog which the owner says is very docile. Perhaps if you gain in confidence you must attempt to pet it too.
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