2 March 2008

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I just read something that's really troubling. In the book Teach with Your Strengths, they say it is more important for a teacher to spend energy on the things he does well than to spend energy trying to fix the things he does poorly. They say trying to be well-rounded diverts energy from using your strengths, and that using your strengths is what makes a great teacher. Now, I may be extending the metaphor too far, or using it in a place that they didn't intend, but what if you take this philosophy and apply it to your entire life? Obviously the things you don't do well are going to have an effect on your life, maybe even a deleterious effect. If you are socially inept or have other issues, these problems just don't go away if you ignore them. I think being well-rounded is one of the best ways to achieve happiness, and by happiness I mean overall life contentment.

They do state this with a caveat in their book; they say you should only ignore your weaknesses if they're not having a negative effect on your job. Now, in the area of your job, I can agree with this condition. Extending this philosophy to your personal life as well, however, is extremely harmful I believe. In leads to repression and pushing away of underlying issues, which can interfere with the rest of your life.

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It is so hard for me to be self observant. It's got to be one of the one hardest things in the world, and that's why journaling is so important. It's like you're driving a tank that you've always lived in down the road and you suddenly wonder, "what color is this tank?". The only way you can tell what color your tank is is to a) have someone tell you or b) look at its reflection as you drive past windows. You can never really get outside of the tank and objectively determine this for yourself. I suppose I could videotape myself living my life and interacting with people, but that's really not feasible or useful. It would only reveal I'm a quiet guy who is nice but socially awkward and afraid of being rejected. It wouldn't really help me determine what my strengths and weaknesses are.

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December 2009

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