Have you ever been in one place, say a meeting with a specific purpose, and something will be said that causes you to have a "Eureka!" moment? It is some statement or idea that transcends the immediate reason for the gathering and can be applied to other aspects of your life.
Such was the case for me recently. I was at a church meeting and the activity at hand was to look at the church's strengths and how that would determine its future. We were doing a process called "appreciative inquiry". As they briefly explained the theory and rationale behind the process I was struck with how much the process would help not just a group but an individual.
The idea is that the group reflects and discovers the strengths of the organization and then through a series of questions, begin to dream and design a future based on those strengths. A group is cautioned that a fixation on organizational weaknesses doesn't move the organization into the future. While that may be beneficial at some point, the purpose of dreaming and vision casting should be based on its strengths.
I wonder if our societal tendency to navel gaze and self-help would be better served if we concentrate on our individual strengths rather than improvement of our weaknesses? It makes me think of the French women philosophy of accepting their physical flaws and concentrating on showcasing their positive physical features.
I am thinking of all the times that I have made my "self-improvement" lists. Mostly they are comprised of physical defects (plan to tone up the upper arms), unwanted behavior (eat more slowly) or character flaws (be more assertive with certain family members) that I want to correct. I think most people have some type of thoughts of self-improvement whether or not you actually list them. If you think you don't have these lists, think to Bridget Jones' diary. One of the reasons readers loved Bridget was that they could relate to her continual attempt at self-improvement. "Reduce amount of cigarettes. Must reduce consumption of alcohol. Don't shag strangers or wait until sober, no matter how ding-dong gorgeous the gentleman may be".
In some ways I think I have wasted way too much energy and time on trying to improve the negative instead of using my time and effort on expanding and improving the strengths. Just think how much farther down life's journey I would be and how much further I would be towards reaching my goals if I didn't worry about and try to correct past items and encounters. Where would I be if I didn't get stuck trying to "fix" something that may never be completely fixed?
It is similar to how I view our house. I think I can be so critical of our house, that I am spending so much time on painting and repairing it to the point that I forget to sit and enjoy the beautiful garden spaces that we have. I can do the same thing with myself and then I wonder why I am stuck and why can't I move forward?
My plan for this year is to focus on the strengths. Embrace it. Don't fight it. And let the weaknesses fall by the wayside.
What would that look like for you? Do you focus on your strengths or weaknesses?