What do you think it means to have a life that works?



A collection of thoughts and musings, each more coherent than the last. Hopefully.
See also Felt Tips for fortnightly writing for creative businesses.


About 'Strengths and Weaknesses'

Recently a young woman asked me a question that I struggled to answer. It was the end of an amazing day looking around Christchurch, and I'd just issued a challenge to the group of ~20 American University students.

"Stare yourself in the face and figure out what you value - how much do these things guide your life decisions? What do you love to do, and when did you last do it? Who is most important to you, and when did you last see them? What would it mean for you to have a life that works for you, as well as the world you all want to save?"

Then the question:

"To what extent do you think we should focus on our strengths versus our weaknesses?"

This question comes at the end of a line of questions in my head, so my wholly unsatisfactory answer was "Well, it depends..." followed by some trivial examples and some honourable backing by my friend/colleague/flatmate Alex.

Upon further reflection, I have a better answer for you Michelle.

Focus always on your strengths in the first place. Do the things you love to do and/or you could potentially be the best in the world at at (assuming they don't cut others down etc etc). If you find yourself falling short or frustrated by some other thing (perhaps a weakness?), THEN focus on that. 

For example: you know I'm a musician and we all know musicians are notoriously unreliable. Well, I'm constantly late to everything. Literally everything. When a venue stopped booking me because I always showed up late (and had to push through crowds with my guitar, spilling drinks), I realised that it was time to actually get myself sorted out. I haven't been late to a gig since.

Some strengths are more important than, and worth overcoming any weakness for. Some weaknesses are so ingrained that you're better to just change your approach and avoid them. Like how I restructure sentences to avoid using possessive apostrophe's's' because they terrify me.

The question of whether to focus on strengths or weaknesses becomes more personal. Your weaknesses are defined by your strengths - they're only weaknesses because they stop you achieving something. What do you want to achieve? What can you do and what can't you do? Which is bigger/badder/more prominent and which would you like to be bigger/badder/more prominent? Focus on your strengths and give your weaknesses as much attention as you know they need. Whichever you work on, it's all improvement - right?

I hope that's better :)