If round is the wrong shape, what about a triangle? Round would indicate that you are great at everything (or at least working at it). A triangle would indicate that you focus everything you have on your strength(s). Or in another words, you look to develop and exploit your strengths, rather than your weaknesses. Last week, I argued that we shouldn’t look solely to be well-rounded (the idea of turning your weaknesses into strengths). This week, I want to argue that we shouldn’t aim to be sharp (focusing on just our own strengths, for the following reasons…
Being sharp limits you to the power of One.
One dimensional that is. Our society doesn’t look too kindly on those who are one dimensional. There is a belief that if you are, then you’re only good for one thing and that is it. Great at writing a book but nothing else? Well, people wince a little bit when they see that person’s lack of social skills, their inability to take care of themselves, their lack of common financial sense, etc. If “Jack of all trades but master of none” is bad, then “One dimensional” is right up there with it. People don’t want to date someone who’s great at cooking, but at nothing else. No one wants a boss who has great social skills, but can’t run a meeting. Additionally, as one friend pointed out, being one dimensional can leave you unprepared for the curveballs of life.
Being sharp limits true growth
When a tree grows, it doesn’t focus on having the biggest leaves, while neglecting the roots, the trunk and the branches. Everything needs to grow. In the same way, we need to grow in all areas of our lives; some aspects more than others. Someone may be good at playing a musical instrument, but that doesn’t mean they should neglect learning social skills. Someone may be an amazing accountant, but they shouldn’t put aside developing personal habits and character traits. You may be great at managing a team, but you shouldn’t forget about becoming a good steward of your money. As a person, if we are looking to develop your strengths and nothing else, then we run the risk of becoming an incomplete person.
Being sharp can cause you to miss out
Strengths are previously perceived weaknesses. I love to sing. I belt out songs at church, I sing while in the car, and I have the honor of leading worship occasionally at seminary chapel. If you talk to those who know me, I think its safe to say that I am a decently good singer. However, I would never have had the confidence that I have now if I allowed a perceived weakness to limit me. In 5th grade, I tried out for the school chorus and did not make it. In 6th grade, my teacher encouraged me to try out again. Seeing how I had failed before (and thus meaning that I must stink, right?), I thought long and hard before actually trying out. Despite my fears and my previous failure, I made the list! That was the beginning of 8 years in chorus, multiple years on a worship team, and a lifetime love of singing. If you relegate yourself to your “strengths,” if you don’t pursue activities or hobbies because you failed once before, or if you don’t try new things because you think you can’t do it, then you’re missing out on life. You will never discovered all that you could be good at and all that you would enjoy.
Here are some excuses that I thought up on the spot for why we only stick to our strengths. Can you relate to some of them?
- Why do I need to learn how to communicate in a relationship? I’m a guy, we don’t do those kinds of things.
- I’m a woman, why do I need to learn how to encrypt my files on my computers, or run a virtual system or partition my hard drive? (just kidding on this, although it wouldn’t hurt to know them!)
- I don’t think I’d be very good at cooking. I think I’ll just go out to eat again.
- I’m the person that others come to for solutions. I don’t need to learn how to empathize.
- I can get by on my looks. I don’t need to learn how to fight fair, develop vocational skills, etc.
- I mow the lawn for my parents and my mom washes my clothes. Do I really need to know how do that chore?
So how does this work? In the first post, I shared why I think putting all your energy into turning weaknesses into strengths is not a good idea. In this post, I shared why I think putting all your energy into developing your strengths is not a good idea. So which is it then?!
By now, some of you will probably have guess this, but I believe that there is a third way to approach this matter, which will be fleshed out next week.
Do you believe that focusing only on your strengths is a positive idea or a negative idea?