Whether you’re a parent, an educator, a grandparent, a coach or anyone else who works or lives with children… the challenges you experience, the moments in the day when you feel you’re furiously paddling upstream and getting nowhere, are all a result of your mindset.
The upsets in a day can seem to be because of… your spouse, your child, your co-worker, the weather… or a myriad of other things. But always… and in all ways… it’s really a spot where your mindset, your beliefs, your thoughts, clash with what appears to be taking place in the moment.
A change in your perception can cause an entire paradigm to come tumbling dow… and that can set you free in ways that are almost unimaginable. And when that happens, not only you but everyone around you benefits.
I’ve recently been re-reading a book called, Breaking the Rules, Removing the Obstacles to Effortless High Performance
Because the book talks about visionary thinkers and leaders, and because I believe that we are all born ‘visionary thinkers’ (though most of us get it trained out of us at an early age)… it has revealed to me many wonderful things about the way children process information.
As an advocate for children I would like to support you in enhancing their abilities as thinkers instead of, by default or design, dampening them. So let’s work on enhancing yours and we’ll talk about strengths.
First… a little exercise. Get out a sheet of paper or something you can write on, and list six of your most valuable personal strengths and six of your most bothersome personal weaknesses.
Pay attention to the feelings you have as you’re writing these down. Now really, stop reading a moment and do this!
waiting…. waiting…. waiting…. waiting….
Okay, now your two lists are complete.
As you read them over right now which causes you the strongest feelings? The strengths or the weaknesses? What words would you use to describe your sense of enjoyment or appreciation for being asked to do this exercise. Pleasure… pain… or are you feeling neutral?
Now go back to your two lists and of the total twelve, place up to five check marks next to the ones you would most like to change over the next 12 months.
Here are a couple of things to make at least a mental note of…
Which column did you start with first? Strengths or Weaknesses? Or did you alternate from one to the other?
I simply invite you to wonder, along with me, what feelings might be guiding your choices. None of your feelings are good or bad, it’s just useful to raise your awareness of how strongly you are guided by them.
Here’s another thing – Notice which character traits you placed your check marks next to… for each one you placed beside a strength you wish to build up, please give yourself a score of minus 1 (-1). Then, for each mark you placed beside a weakness you would like to correct, please give yourself a score of plus one (+1). Total your net score (possible range is between -5 and +5) and make note of it where we can refer back to it later.
Keep in mind this is all about paying attention to what you’re feeling while you’re doing these exercises. An important thing to pay attention to is what happens to your energy level as you ponder your strengths and then shift to your weaknesses… or vice versa. Open yourself up to gaining insights here. Many of us aren’t very practiced at putting our feelings into words… and if we have trouble doing this then how can we effectively guide our children in this area?
By the way, the vast majority of people who have participated in this exercise, clearly feel the energy level rise while putting their attention on their strengths and drop when their attention is on their weaknesses.
Here are a couple ot other things to consider… do you notice that the items on your ‘weakness’ list would have been listed by you five years ago… even ten years ago? That’s pretty typical and certainly serves as evidence for the fact that our approaches to correcting our ‘weaknesses’ isn’t effective.
So what are the 2 most useful insights gained from exploring your feelings around your strengths and weaknesses?
Our next step calls for some imagineering. I want you to pretend you’re sitting in front of a series of gauges. These gauges are going to provide you with accurate readings of the relative value of your strengths in a dozen different personality trait areas. (Think of a gas gauge in your car… which simply shows you the relative value of the amount of gasoline in your tank)
Image from Breaking The Rules by Kurt Wright
Now your job is to let your intuition guide you and jot down where on each gauge you would rate yourself in each area today. Here are the 12 areas -
Self-Confidence Empathy Tactfulness Self-Discipline
Patience Persistence Persuasiveness Decisiveness
Intelligence Time Organization
Communication Effectiveness Enthusiasm
Let’s take a little aside here.
We need to understand that the vast majority of us are negatively motivated. In other words… we are motivated to avoid pain. And the pain we most want to avoid is the negative emotion we’ve felt before and never, ever, EVER want to feel again! Know what I mean?!? ;-0
Of course, we’re kidding ourselves if we think this approach is helping. Of course it isn’t because in our efforts to avoid negatives, we keep ourselves on high alert to… you guessed it…. all the negatives we want to avoid. And once we’re tuned to them we see LOTS and contine creating more!
Hang on to your numbers from today’s exercises and tomorrow we’ll take a look at Self-Image…
We’re up to making changes here… and if you’ll stick with me I ‘ll show you that weaknesses do not exist!