I’m a fan of celebrating strengths, and I’d love to tell you why. I learned a lot about it from a shell.
It may sound odd to take advice from a shell on celebrating strengths, yet one of the things that strikes me as a problem is the difficulty people have is being truly open to their strengths.
Our society frowns on people saying “I’m good at xyz.” It’s seen as arrogant.
We prefer self-deprecation to recognition of strength. This isn’t healthy.
People are very comfortable saying, “Oh, I’m so bad at _____.” We are far less comfortable saying, “I’m good at _______.”
This is one of the reasons parents of gifted kids often feel so isolated – it’s frowned upon to comment on our children’s abilities, too.
In a conversation with other parents, it’s socially acceptable to say, “My daughter really has trouble talking with strangers.”
It’s less acceptable to say, “My daughter is an excellent reader.” This is why we love grandparents. They’re virtually the only safe audience for parents.
We have to make it okay to recognize and name our strengths.
As we do this, we often find that our strengths and weaknesses are the same. For example, I’m very organized and get a lot done in a day, but it can make me too rigid sometimes. If I focused on being less rigid, I might lose my productivity.
How can you make a positive change in the world in this area?
- Make a point to ask people about their strengths. Say something like, “I’ve noticed you really have a strength in the area of _____. Do you feel like that’s a strength for you, too?”
- When people say something to you that sounds like bragging, take a second and think to yourself, “Is this bragging or is it acknowledgement of strength?”
- Make a list of your strengths and try to recognize opposing challenge that goes with it. Notice how often you comment on the weakness as opposed to the strength.
Watch Marcel the Shell recognize his strengths and weaknesses in a small but healthy way.