The Root of Strengths and Weaknesses

When considering the depths of a person’s character, a common question asked is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” It’s a fair question for a number of reasons. For one, it forces a person to accomplish some form of introspection, at least if they take the question seriously. For another, it can offer some insight into the person’s honesty, with others and about themselves. And really, strengths and weaknesses offer a perfect linear balance, where if you have one good trait, you must have some equal opposing negative trait to balance the formula. But life is neither perfect, nor linear, nor balanced, and neither are people, are we?

The problem with the Strengths and Weaknesses mentality in its common form is that what it’s addressing is typically merely symptoms. In asking myself this same question recently, I came upon two characteristics that always crop up. Strength: Dogged persistence to figure things out. Weakness: Intensely distractable.

Taken at this point and form, persistence and distractability can seem either unrelated or polar opposites. Distill them further though; what lies at their root? What drives a person to persist and what trait can cause a person to be distractable. The answer to both is one and the same and the link between the two: curiosity. I’m an extremely curious person. This leads to a love of figuring things out and finding an answer. Once I do, I yearn for the next puzzle or fact, which leads to a rather distractable nature. So at its root, curiosity may seem simple enough, but as we can see in my situation, it can lead to two personality traits that can be perceived as positive and negative.

Beautiful. Excellent. What’s my point?

When looking at your traits, rather than looking at them as “good” and “bad”, look at them as they are: arms from the core of your true being. What they become at that point are no longer positives and negatives, but tools that need to be handled properly. A weakness, therefore, may not be a weakness at all, but a strength used in the wrong context.

The good news then?

Practice makes perfect, and with it, you can only get better.

Here’s to progress.

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On Purpose

Whatever short-term materialistic bauble an individual may be craving at any given time, it’s inevitable that the acquisition of said gem is a mere fleeting spark of glee. Invariably, once the “new” has worn off of the object, there’s something else on the horizon ready to take its place, something “better.” This, of course, leads to an endless succession of “gotta-haves” and “look-i-gots.” It’s the new American Dream and the pinnacle of consumerism,  the oft coveted ability to have what you want when you want it. However it’s ultimately unfulfilling, isn’t it? There’s no satisfaction when the object of such desire is so readily replaced. It’s a trap. This focus on consumerism has removed from many individuals that one thing that could improve their lives and the lives of the people around them: purpose.
Ignoring for a moment the theological and philosophical implications of that singular word, we’re left with a single driving force that propels an individual to achieve the improbable and sometimes impossible, a focused energy that bubbles beneath the surface and explodes forth in a brilliant cacophony of invention, creation, action, and (at times) destruction. Can we imagine the spectacle that would occur in the wake of a revolution of purpose across our generation, a dedicated refocus from the emptiness of consumerism to the ideal of actually making a difference? Whatever one individual would imagine would pale in comparison to the brilliance of a shared idea begotten by a shared purpose.