It is funny the memories that stay close to us. Many years ago when I was teaching sixth grade, and during a parent-teacher conference, the dad asked me to tell him about his daughter’s weaknesses so they could focus on improvement. I felt so sorry for that young girl; she was so talented in so many areas and yet her dad wanted to focus on her weaknesses. I wanted to cry out, “…no, focus on her strengths…foster her strengths.
This came to mind as I was discussing this topic with several mature friends. We are of the age where we could forthrightly state what we are good at and what we were not. No judgment, just focus on what you are good at. Someone else can focus on your weaknesses. In this conversation, I was willing to admit that housecleaning is not my strength. This was a very difficult admission. Shouldn’t we, as women be good at housecleaning? After all, how hard can it be? I found I was carrying shame from my ex-in-laws who judged me by my housecleaning skills. Which, admittedly, were lacking. I let that judgment rule my life for a long time. How hard can it be? When I was willing to let this go, I was always delighted to come home to a clean house that someone else had cleaned. A clean house I wasn’t able to achieve. Let go of the guilt… the “shoulds.”
I was able to discuss my strengths. My accomplishments. I thought about those certificates I have hung on my wall to remind me who I am—educated and accomplished. But that also does not represent who I am. I was able to state clearly that I am an accomplished listener. Listening is not just staying quiet and humming, ah-ha. Listening is really understanding the emotion behind what someone is telling me and then giving them feedback on what I just heard.
I love when a potential client tells me they feel so much better after talking to me. And not one of them has ever seen my less than perfectly clean house. What are your strengths? What are you willing to let go of that’s not your skill set? I love that term—skill set. You don’t even have to say you are not good at something. Just say “That is not my skill set.”