When I was a single mom, I used to hang out with a lot of single moms. What I learned very quickly was how inadequate we all felt trying to be mother and father to our kids. It left us feeling exhausted, downhearted and frustrated. No matter how much we tried, being a dad was every single mom’s weakness.
One day, my friend Lorre shared that her middle-school-age son had become frustrated that she could not do what some of the neighborhood dads were doing with their sons. In that painful moment, she had a revelation.
“I suck at being a dad. I wasn’t built for it, I wasn’t designed to do that job and I’m done beating myself up for not being a good dad. I can be a great mom but I can’t be both.”
That bit of wisdom at its core holds a valid truth for all of us: we shouldn’t be playing to our weakness. It’s draining discouraging and debilitating. Sports teams are not going to put the star quarterback on the field to be a kicker. They position their players where they do the most good using the skills they have. How much energy are you using focusing on your strengthening your weaknesses? Instead of trying to improve what we’re not good at, why don’t we pay people to do those tasks and capitalize on our strengths?
As a single mom, I didn’t have a lot of money after paying the bills. That meant we rarely went out to eat. But, I could cook anything. At the library, I read gourmet cookbooks and learned how to make restaurant quality food from scratch at home. And I learned a few shortcuts for making meals very quickly. By investing in that strength, we ate very well and my daughter learned how to cook at a young age. She’s adventurous in the kitchen and developed an interest in food from many cultures and unafraid to try new flavors.
Even though I was more visually creative, I used to feel bad about not being the math whiz my sister is. During those years with very little money, I created artwork that I could sell and it saw me through some financially thin times.
Discover Your Strengths
Sometimes you’ll discover a new weakness when you try something new. I once took a job in collections. I dug in, determined to master it because I needed the money. It was a painful experience for many reasons, chief among them is that I’m not a telephone person. I stayed with it because the people in my office were great and the job paid well. But when it took a toll on my health, I pursued another job that paid less because it was in my strong skill set.
Later, I discovered that I was capable of working for myself, and I eventually started my own business. Since then, instead of gritting my teeth and working tasks I’m really not good at, I pay someone who enjoys them. And, even though I prefer not to repeat those years in collections, that experience gave me a different level of strength and bravery and additional skills in negotiating.
Can you imagine what a difference it would make in our society if everyone only worked from their strengths? Believe it or not, there are people who live to do the very things you dislike. And maybe you love a job right now that a lot of people don’t like. (I’m always surprised by the number of people who hate writing.)
What does this mean for you?
How do you feel when you’re trying to do something you’re not great at? Whether it’s inability to bake cookies, grow a garden or make phone calls, if you don’t love it, every moment may feel like drudgery. You may dread starting, it saps your strength just thinking about it. You may be putting something off right now.
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Don’t be afraid to ask friends or co-workers to help you out. It may not be immediately evident to you. Alternately, make a note of how various tasks make you feel as you work through them. I accepted that I wasn’t going to be great in everything I tried and moved on to those things that fed my heart and soul. You can too.
That ancient proverb, choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life sounds like someone working from a position of strength. When you’re good at something you can breeze right through it and it’s a joy. By knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are you can change your trajectory, have more fulfillment and actually enjoy your life more.
Maybe you’re in a job right now that really doesn’t bring you much happiness. Don’t believe the lie that it’s too late in life to start something new. If you’re still breathing, it’s not too late. I encourage you to identify those things you like doing that makes time fly by. What makes your heart sing and puts a smile on your face? Once you discover what you really enjoy, you can start traveling in a new direction.
Have you been inspired to make any changes recently? Drop us a line in the comments box and let us hear from you.