Share your strengths

Of all the places to find inspiration for a post, the tag on a teabag was one of the last places I’d think to look!  For some time (actually, since I went caffeine free for August last year) I’ve been drinking all sorts of different teas.  I’m not too keen on black tea, and there’s caffeine in that anyway, so I’ve been going through a couple of brands here in the UK, Pukka and Yogi.  The tea bags from both are individually wrapped and they have little tags on them: the Yogi teas have some kind of “thought for the day” or mindfulness quote on the tag.  

Share your strengths, not your weaknesses

– Harbhajan Singh Yogi

Today’s tag was Share your strengths, not your weaknesses, and I thought that was a really good way to look at life. I know that Bing Crosby sang about something similar back in the ’40s or ’50s with the release of Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive, but it strikes me that this is a really sensible approach to the stresses and rigours of life these days.  

I had been unhappy at my previous employer for several years before I finally plucked up the courage to leave.  One of the main problems I had was that I was really good at finding reasons why someone else wouldn’t employ me (I had a limited skill set, I had no marketable skills, that sort of thing) and I was really bad at finding reasons why they should.  I had talked it through a number of times with Dee and eventually sat down to draw up a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) chart, a bit like the one below. 

It was hard going, but I managed to come up with a number of things which I thought I was good at, and then set about targeting roles which allowed me to capitalise on them. It also helped me figure out what sort of role I wanted, what sort of working environment and conditions I wanted, etc. I found what I was looking for and have gone from (pardon the pun) strength to strength.  It turns out that the blend of skills I had was exactly what my new company was looking for too, and I’m really please I made the move.  I try to play to my strengths all the time, but in the background I’m also working on my weaknesses, so that I’ll be able to develop them into positives too. 

How many of us get bogged down in negative thoughts and poor self esteem?  When talking to people, do we talk about the good things or the bad things we’ve experienced?  For example, mention to someone that you’re going in to hospital for an operation, and the chances are you’ll get a horror story back from them about someone they know who went in for the same thing and who had the worst experience imaginable?  What about if someone is waiting for a book deal, or about to take their driving test? There are endless examples which I’m sure you can come up with.  
Why do you think that is?  Why do you think there’s a tendency among many to focus on the negatives, on the pessimistic outcomes?  

Here’s a thought.  Next time you hear a conversation that’s going down a negative route, why not look on the positive side, give a helpful example where everything worked out ok?  Try it, and see how the people you’re talking to react.  See how you feel after sharing a story with a positive outcome.  Is it better, or worse, than when you’ve done the opposite?  

For the record, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences from my two stays in hospital since I turned 16.  

This sort of positive approach is allied (in my opinion) to the view that “before you say anything, ask yourself if it is true, if it kind or if it is helpful: if the answer is no, then don’t say it”. In this case it becomes “if you can’t say anything positive about something (a person, event, activity, place etc) then don’t say anything”.  I think the world would be a much happier (and dare I say, quieter) place if we could all do this.    


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