We all have strengths.
And I believe strongly in developing those strengths over a desire to strengthen a weakness.
I work for a strengths-based organization. I’ve taken StrengthsFinder and know my top five strengths.
This knowledge has been invaluable.
It’s provided me with a language that allows me to describe what I previously had difficulty describing.
One of my top five strengths is Futuristic. I get inspired by thinking about what the future could be, what it might hold.
This strength has helped me make many goals a reality. I see what I want to achieve or who I become and I am inspired towards action.
This strength is a lens through which I view the world.
I’m constantly scanning ahead trying to guess what’s in front of me. I chess play out a multitude of scenarios to help me find the optimal path forward.
Viewing the world through this lens has paid off. I’ve found success in my career and in my own personal development.
It’s helped me change careers three times, complete marathons, shed weight, achieve promotions, etc.
The point is, it’s been one of my superpowers.
THE PERIL OF STRENGTHS
But I’ve found there is peril hidden in this type of thinking.
When we latch on to ideas of who we are or are supposed to be, we tend to confirm all the good that comes from it and discount or ignore the downside that may be a result of it.
The lens which I choose to view the world through comes with a price.
Always looking towards the future causes anxiety. Anxiety is a fear of future outcomes and their uncertainty. I suffer from anxiety most days but never connect it as a byproduct of my strength.
I assume everyone sees what I see, views the world through the same lens. Every judgment I make is arrived at through my lens rather then trying to see it through a different lens.
Doing so can drive me to madness.
I’m unable to fathom why someone would act a certain way when viewed through my lens.
The reality is far outside what my lens is equipped to see. I convince myself that the action or the person is acting irrationally.
It’s easier to blame my misunderstanding on someone else’s actions than it is to look at myself as the source of the conflict.
Doing the latter would force me to seek understanding.
When someone doesn’t think three steps ahead, perhaps it’s not because they lack ambition or can’t, but rather because they’ve chosen to view the world through a different lens.
Perhaps, they prefer to live in the present and not worry about future outcomes.
Rather, they live in the moment and face the future as it appears in the moments thereafter, however they may unfurl.
Empathy is the ability to see what you cannot see. It’s the ability to recognize your own lens, briefly set it aside and try to see the world through the lens of someone else.
Until we acknowledge the lens, it is hard to see others for who they are.
Instead, we see them as who we want them to be.
To be seen, you must first see.