In the last decade there has been an influx of research and literature about how successful people learn to leverage their strengths without paying too much attention to fixing or changing their weaknesses. While I’ve often applied this to myself and to my business I’ve only recently considered how this applies to parenting. With our children we generally know what their strengths and weaknesses are. As parents we observe them growing up and it seems so clear to us what they do well and what they do poorly. The general parenting methodology is to focus on helping your children “fix” what is broken and get better at that which they tend to do poorly. I would like to challenge that idea.
Minimize Weaknesses and Maximize Strengths
The most successful people in our society tend to be REALLY good at a few core things. Even the most successful companies tend to only be REALLY good at a few core things. If we want to prepare our children to find a high level of success we need to help them strengthen their strengths and minimize their weakness.
Making strong things stronger is the easiest way to focus on this concept. If your child shows a talent for math, for art, for problem solving, for people skills, you should determine how you can help them develop that even further. You will get less push back from the child since they tend to have passion for things at which they excel. As they develop a few extra ordinary skills their weaknesses don’t go away or become unimportant but the individual becomes a stronger asset to a society that is becoming more specialized and looking for peak performers.
So what do you do about those things that are weak? Find ways to make up for them. Stop trying to fix your kid and instead discover how you can make the weak points less important. When we try to fix our children they grow frustrated with themselves and with you. Self-confidence is diminished and they go into a world less empowered.
There is some risk if we identify the arena in which they are succeeding instead of identifying the skill that allows them to succeed in that life arena. For example, if your son is really good at football, I’m not suggesting that we do everything possible to get them into the NFL. While the NFL may be a great goal, the key is to hone in on what specific skills are allowing them to succeed. Do they have an ability to work well in teams, be decisive under pressure, identify and work toward goals, or lead others into difficult circumstances? Those are strengths that can pay off in a lot of different life arenas including football.
Learning to harness this simple idea will make our children stronger and more prepared to succeed in this world.