As I grow older, I’m gaining a deeper sense of the paradoxes within everything in life. It feels like one of the ways in which the universe can’t help but reveal some of it’s inherent mystery through it’s nature; philosophical quantum physics. The mysteries of life are these conundrums that we traverse and through this process of figuring life out, we gain wisdom and experience – sometimes, we even walk away with both.
Some of us seem more apt to figure life out and whether this aptitude is innate or developed is a moot point, for regardless of the origin of our individual facilities, we each posses unique strengths and weaknesses that ultimately have a lot to do with our individual capacity to figure life out and to be wise in doing so.
But often we gain experience without gaining wisdom; we repeat mistakes and we fail to see which way the river is flowing, jumping in and swimming the wrong way again.
The beautiful thing about wisdom is that it can be acquired through learning, which allows us to produce the solution that best fits the situation, without having the benefit of direct experience.
We have to remember that every experience we have is an opportunity to gain wisdom, but we also have the opportunity to shape our choices in a way that allows us to apply the wisdom we already poses – maximizing our probability of succeeding at what we do in life.
Our wisdom is our strengths, our lack of wisdom our weaknesses. When we do not posses wisdom regarding a given situation, we are jumping into the stream blindfolded.
Yet we are all basically blind to our strengths and weaknesses. We cultivate our strengths without realizing how valuable they truly are. If we all made life decisions based on our strengths, we would increase our aptitude toward success and we would decrease failure and discontent.
However, that’s not the way we think. We lead lives based on what we think we should do given 50 other factors. Society, career, relationships, ego, culture, goals, peer-pressure – all these external factors which place little weight in assessing our strengths and weaknesses, aside from judging perceived risks and difficulties.
We’re wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and we base these on these external factors. Operating on this paradigm is completely antithetical to self-awareness.
To be self-aware is to know your strengths and weaknesses. To be self-actualized is to cultivate and pursue your strengths.
We need to rewire our operating systems. We need to program a new paradigm that says: figuring life out and succeeding is best accomplished when we focus our energy in life on applying our strengths and avoiding our weaknesses.
We need to program a new paradigm that says: figuring life out and succeeding is best accomplished when we focus our energy in life on applying our strengths and avoiding our weaknesses.
Life isn’t fair, but it really isn’t fair if you don’t make this decision to change your compass in life, because the people who operating from their strengths are going to wipe the floor with you.
I know what you’re thinking, “well, I’m really good at organizing” or “I’m really good at sailing” or “I don’t even know what my strengths are”.
Look, it’s time to ditch this guidance counselor thinking and upgrade your idea of what a strength is and what a weakness is.
This is going to take a little existential thinking on your part. Our pragmatism is keeping us far too grounded. First, let’s take a look at people who have played to their strengths in life. Imagine anyone killing it. Anyone just shining in life.
This isn’t about being average or even good. This isn’t necessarily about being great either, but it is about feeling great.
You see, I believe that individuals who crush it, people who are able to just make things click, those are people that have a heightened sense of awareness about what they do. I’m not saying they can see or feel better, but they have a greater perception about what they do then the competition. They have a better understanding of things. They have a beautiful mind for what they do.
I told you we were going to get existential.
That’s really what it is though. Our strengths are the things we have a beautiful mind for.
Our strengths are the things we have a beautiful mind for.
These things are not always tangible skills. Sometimes they are modes of communicating or feeling. Remember, we just happen to live in a society that values success over self-actualization. However, I believe that we all have a beautiful mind for multiple things.
A beautiful mind is nothing more than the ability to use your humanity to create change in other people. We’re peeling the onion here. This is about life and life is about affecting people positively. Collectively working together as a village would.
We need to be the best villager we can be. It’s taken me 28 years to start to see my place in the village.
I’m have a generosity of spirit for lifting people up and changing their thinking with empowering paradigms. I have a strong business sense to grow companies and improve products. Those are a couple examples of areas where I am applying my strengths and let me tell you – life is getting really good as a result of that applied energy.
On the other hand, like everyone else, I have weaknesses that abound.
There’s a great story a father told his son.
There were two dads and two sons in a town. One dad was a kind and gentle fellow, the other dad was a mean and nasty drunk.
Their sons were best friends growing up and they both turned into wonderful men. When asked how they became great men, the son of the kind dad said, ‘I looked at my dad for how to be” and the son of the mean dad said “I looked at my dad for how not to be”.
The moral of the story is that being aware of your weaknesses is just as valuable as being aware of your strengths when it comes to managing your choices.
I truly believe that if we focus our energy on discovering and following our strengths we can change our lives in ways we never thought possible.
Note: I’ll publish a part 2 soon where I will go more into depth about applying this concept to our lives. You can subscribe to my blog to get notified when it’s published.
edit: 11/16/15 – reading this again two years later and realizing I never really did a part two. Here’s one better.