Growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I always learned the verse of scripture written by the prophet Moroni in Ether 12:27.
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
I have interpreted this scripture to mean that I need to focus on my weaknesses and make them become strengths. To do this I rely on the Lord, find where I am weak and work to improve. As I have looked at this verse of scripture I have also noticed that it says weakness not weaknesses. The more I ponder what this means the more I come to the conclusion that it is of a spiritual nature. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Here in mortality we need to learn to put off the natural man and become a saint through Christ Jesus.
Over the past few months as I have engaged in study and reading of good books I have discovered that we ought to focus more on our strengths than our weaknesses. Yes, I want to overcome the flesh and seek peace and mindfulness each day to control my thoughts and actions, but I am talking more in a temporal sense. I reflect on the parable of the talents from Christ. He taught of a master that gave to three. To one he gave 5, to another 2 and to yet another 1. They then went forth with these talents. Those who had 5 and 2 came back with 10 and 4. They took where they were strong and improved upon it. The one with 1 returned with 1 for he had hid his talent. His was then taken away.
Now as I look at this in the light of strengths I see that if we go forth with our God given abilities we must make them better. I’m not good at playing the harp so I shouldn’t focus my efforts there. I am good at reading and piecing ideas together so I should focus on building strategies and ideas that solve problems. I’m really good at getting things done and hustling. Thus, I had a lot of success when we were starting Altra. I get things done. It’s a strength of mine. I should focus on growing that strength. We should each look to where we are strong.
Take a moment and write down 5-7 things that you are good at.?
It’s okay for us to do what we are good at and are passionate about. It’s okay for us to encourage our children to do the same.
Last night I heard this parable from Paul Allen that was originally written by Donald Clifton in his book, Soar With Your Strengths.
Imagine there is a meadow. In that meadow there is a duck, a fish, an eagle, an owl, a squirrel, and a rabbit. They decide they want to have a school so they can be smart, just like people.
With the help of some grown-up animals, they come up with a curriculum they believe will make a well-rounded animal: running, swimming, tree climbing, jumping, and flying.
On the first day of school, little rabbit combed his ears, and he went hopping off to his running class. There he was a star. He ran to the top of the hill and back as fast as he could go, and, oh, did it feel good. He said to himself, ?I can?t believe it. At school, I get to do what I do best.?
The instructor said, ?Rabbit, you really have talent for running. You have great muscles in your rear legs. With some training, you will get more out of every hop.?
The rabbit said, ?I love school. I get to do what I like to do and get to learn to do it better.?
The next class was swimming. When the rabbit smelled the chlorine, he said, ?Wait, wait! Rabbits don?t like to swim.?
The instructor said, ?Well, you may not like it now, but five years from now you?ll know it was a good thing for you.?
In the tree-climbing class, a tree trunk was set at a 30-degree angle so all the animals had a chance to succeed. The little rabbit tried so hard he hurt his leg.
In jumping class, the rabbit got along just fine; in flying class, he had a problem. So the teacher gave him a test and discovered he belonged in remedial flying.
In remedial flying class, the rabbit had to practice jumping off a cliff. They told him if he?d just work hard enough, he could succeed.
The next morning, he went on to swimming class. The instructor said, ?Today we jump in the water.?
?Wait, wait. I talked to my parents about swimming. They didn?t learn to swim. We don?t like to get wet. I?d like to drop this course.? The instructor said, ?You can?t drop it. The drop-and-add period is over. At this point you have a choice: Either you jump in or you flunk.?
The rabbit jumped in. He panicked! He went down once. He went down twice. Bubbles came up. The instructor saw he was drowning and pulled him out. The other animals had never seen anything quite as funny as this wet rabbit who looked more like a rat without a tail, and so they chirped, and jumped, and barked, and laughed at the rabbit. The rabbit was more humiliated than he had ever been in his life. He wanted desperately to get out of class that day. He was glad when it was over.
He thought that he would head home, that his parents would understand and help him. When he arrived, he said to his parents, ?I don?t like school. I just want to be free.?
?If the rabbits are going to get ahead, you have to get a diploma? replied his parents.
The rabbit said, ?I don?t want a diploma!?
The parents said, ?You?re going to get a diploma whether you want one or not!?
They argued, and finally the parents made the rabbit go to bed. In the morning the rabbit headed off to school with a slow hop. Then he remembered that the principal had said that any time he had a problem to remember that the counselor?s door is always open.
When he arrived at school, he hopped up in the chair by the counselor and said, ?I don?t like school.?
And the counselor said, ?Mmmm, tell me about it.?
And the rabbit did.
The counselor said, ?Rabbit, I hear you. I hear you saying you don?t like school because you don?t like swimming. I think I have diagnosed that correctly.?
?Rabbit, I tell you what we?ll do. You?re doing just fine in running. I don?t know why you need to work on running. What you need to work on is swimming. I?ll arrange it so you don?t have to go to running anymore, and you can have two periods of swimming.?
When the rabbit heard that, he just threw up!
As the rabbit hopped out of the counselor?s office, he looked up and saw his old friend, the Wise Old Owl who, after listening to little rabbit?s sad tale, cocked his head and said, ?Rabbit, life doesn?t have to be that way. We could have schools and businesses where people are allowed to concentrate on what they do well.?
Rabbit was inspired. He thought when he graduated, he would start a business where the rabbits would do nothing but run, the squirrels could just climb trees, and the fish could just swim. As he disappeared into the meadow, he sighed softly to himself and said?
?Oh, what a great place that would be.?
Each of us are like the rabbit. We have things that we are good at and can be world class at. We should focus our time and energy on those things. We should not take from those things to put more time and effort into those things that we are not good at. There is always someone that can help compensate for our weaknesses. I am reminded of the story of Henry Ford as shared in Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
During the world war, a Chicago newspaper published certain editorials in which, among other statements, Henry Ford was called “an ignorant pacifist.” Mr. Ford objected to the statements, and brought suit against the paper for libeling him. When the suit was tried in the Courts, the attorneys for the paper pleaded justification, and placed Mr. Ford, himself, on the witness stand, for the purpose of proving to the jury that he was ignorant. The attorneys asked Mr. Ford a great variety of questions, all of them intended to prove, by his own evidence, that, while he might possess considerable specialized knowledge pertaining to the manufacture of automobiles, he was, in the main, ignorant.
Mr. Ford was plied with such questions as the following:
“Who was Benedict Arnold?” and “How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the Rebellion of 1776?” In answer to the last question, Mr. Ford replied, “I do not know the exact number of soldiers the British sent over, but I have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back.”
Finally, Mr. Ford became tired of this line of questioning, and in reply to a particularly offensive question, he leaned over, pointed his finger at the lawyer who had asked the question, and said, “If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”
There certainly was good logic to that reply.
That answer floored the lawyer. Every person in the courtroom realized it was the answer, not of an ignorant man, but of a man of EDUCATION. Any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action. Through the assistance of his “Master Mind” group, Henry Ford had at his command all the specialized knowledge he needed to enable him to become one of the wealthiest men in America.?It was not essential that he have this knowledge in his own mind.
Let us focus on where we are strong and surround ourselves with great people to compensate for where we are weak. Spend your time on strengthening your strongholds.