Updated: Apr 21, 2022
I keep seeing it over and over again. And it still drives me crazy. We live in such a remedial culture. An example: someone who swims 2.4 miles (at minimum, you know not everyone sights perfectly) in 2 hours and 5 minutes is described, and often self-described, as a “weak” swimmer. That would be news to the vast majority of humans inhabiting the planet!
I just read a post by a gifted athlete describing vulnerability as a weakness. How can we allow ourselves to think and speak like this anymore? Cognitive science, that is actually current and legitimate, finds the practice of framing performance in terms of weakness is profoundly counter-productive. It can be destructive to human performance, not to mention the human soul!
I recognize that we all, each and every one of us, have limiters. But a limiter is not a weakness; it is ONLY a limiter. When a limiter is only viewed as a weakness, how can improvements ever happen? Trying harder to live up to a standard that is based on someone else’s strength - well that is certainly a recipe for success…not.
When we leverage what makes us strong in other areas of life to improve performance in areas where we are challenged, we have a pathway to real success. I know that many will argue this point, saying don’t ignore the areas of “weakness.” The reality is that most people focus on their perceived weakness and then it really does truly become a performance inhibitor because there ends up being no vantage point from which to improve performance. Where is the healthy mental benefit in that? There is none.
Instead let us embrace our areas of strength so that we can leverage our those to improve our areas of challenge. Let us let go of the remedial-focused culture’s language of weakness and ask ourselves, “How do I best harness my strengths to become even stronger, both where I already have strong performance and where I need improvement?” Within the answer to that more complex question lies the pathway to improved performance.
You are not weak. You have strengths that can make you better even in areas where you need or want to improve performance. You are strong. You have strengths that are simply waiting for you to embrace, cultivate, and nurture. Now, go for your greatness. It is there and it is yours. So when you are tempted to think in terms of weakness, I encourage you to do one thing…STOP IT!