Realize your strengths to become more of who you are.
You have your own set of abilities, talents, and interests which you naturally excel at (your strengths). When you feel forced to fill a mold that does not fit you, it’s easy to become frustrated, discouraged, and even guilty. Lack of fulfillment, mediocrity, or complete defeat can be the unfortunate result.
Many times, we do not reach out or vocalize this because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others. We may think “I could never do what she does!”
The problem is not our lack of abilities, but too narrow a definition of outreach (or of success).
Find your strength
Read this adaptation of a story by George Reavis and consider whether you are a duck, a rabbit, squirrel, or eagle:
Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So, they organized a school.
They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.
The duck was excellent at swimming; in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor at running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his web feet to be so badly worn that he was only average in swimming.
The rabbit started at the top of his class in running but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming.
The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed “Charlie horses” from overexertion, and only got a C in climbing and a D in running.
The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his way to get there.
Apples to oranges
A duck is a duck–and only a duck. It is built to swim, not to run or fly and certainly not to climb. A squirrel is a squirrel–and only that. To move it out of its forte and then expect it to swim or fly will drive a squirrel nuts. Eagles are beautiful creatures in the air but not in a foot race. The rabbit will win every time unless, of course, the eagle gets hungry.
If you’re a duck–be a duck. Swim like mad, but don’t get bent out of shape because you wobble when you run or flap instead of fly. Furthermore, if you’re an eagle, stop expecting squirrel to soar, or rabbit to build the same kind of nests you do.
Relax. Enjoy your strengths. Cultivate your own capabilities. Your own style. Appreciate the members of your team for who they are, even though their outlook or style may be miles different from yours. Rabbits don’t fly. Eagles don’t swim. Ducks look funny trying to climb. Squirrels don’t have feathers.
Stop comparing. There’s plenty of room in the forest.
Develop, don’t fix
The fact is, it doesn’t matter if you’re a duck, squirrel, rabbit, eagle, or even a sloth. You are who you are. The best you can hope to become is more of who you are. Stop trying to fix yourself or those around you. Instead, develop what comes natural and easy for you. Appreciate your co-workers’ strengths and understand weaknesses so you can call upon team members who are strong to compensate for where you are weak.
Encourage everyone to do more of what they are great at, at what they enjoy, and people will feel empowered to make their biggest, most impactful contribution.
Help your team aim that energy at top priorities and you will exceed your goals.
For more advice on employee development and other solutions to drive excellent workplace culture, visit our updated Talent Enrichment page.