Column: Beyond Inspiration
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.
Latest posts by AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud ) (see all)
By AlAnoud AlMadhi (@ALANOUD_auh)
Illustration by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)
When I handed my parents my report card, they were not very thrilled. Although I had A’s and only one B+, it was the grade I got in math that caught their eye. It was a big fat devilish C. Numbers were just never my cup of tea!
After the event, my dad made sure I intensely focused on math so he bought me several math books, got me a math tutor, and asked my school’s math teacher to grant me the attention and practice I needed to excel in the subject.
Even though I realized the importance of math, I could only feel weaker every time I solved an arithmetic problem; even if I had done it correctly.
In many occasions, our flaws stand out more than our fortitudes and so we are often asked to fix these defects. Having been in these situations several times, we grow up believing that whatever weakness we have should be mended. So, we have programmed ourselves to focus on our deficiencies, ponder on them, and find ways to bend ourselves into turning them into strengths; a process which takes a whole lot of time, greatly exerted efforts, and in the end, leaves us drained.
That being said, the unspoken pleasant truth is that the secret of being better is not in repairing our shortcomings but in playing to our strengths.
It is through spotting our natural talents, realizing our true passions, and building up our strengths that we can shove peoples’ focus away from our flaws and be fulfilled.
So what are those strengths and how can you find them? There are several online tests that analyze your personality and give you a list of fortes. But honestly, these tests can only tell you so much. No one but you can pinpoint what strengths you have.
You can, nevertheless, use such tests as guides for you to find them. I would advise you to use my favorite strength tests: “StrengthsFinder” by Tom Rath and Gallup Center and “StandOut” by Marcus Buckingham.
In their books, Rath and Buckingham mention two paramount points. Tom Rath stated “…talent is one of the ingredients in the [StrengthsFinder] formula” while Buckingham mentioned that “Passions are the building blocks of [strengths]”.
Keep in mind that just because you are good at something, does not mean it is your strength. You must be good at that thing and feel strong about it as you do it. For instance, in that report card of mine, I aced geography, but studying it was torture to me.
You already know from a past article that my talent was the natural ability of speaking in public and so public speaking became my passion.
The reason I knew it was my passion was because of the emotions I had before, during, and after that activity. That is, I was looking forward to speaking, felt driven while I spoke, and was later fulfilled and strong when I had done it.
Practicing your strength is just like falling in love. When you love someone unconditionally, you would do the hard and impossible to make them happy. However, you would not be feeling the pain of that process nor the hardships of the efforts you make in it. It is just a thrill to you.
According to Buckingham, after knowing your talent and your passion, the step to transforming them into strength is by making that passion more specific and then practicing it over and over again.
For example, if my passion was “public speaking”, a more specific idea of it would be “inspirational speaking”. Next, I will need to dig deeper so I might say: “inspirational speaking to the youth”. In the end, an even more specific idea could be “inspirational speaking to the youth about success stories”. After realizing my talent, discovering my passion, and finding a more precise meaning of the latter, I will have to practice it time and again. Only then could it be my strength.
Now I realize this could be hard work but if you thought about it, investing time and effort to excel in something and be happy with yourself is way more advantageous and fulfilling than contemplating and spilling your energy on something you can be no more than “average” at.
I am not saying we should never look into our weaknesses. It is essential to have an appropriate level of knowledge and skill in certain areas such as math and technology. However, it would be a shame to devote our time on perfecting something that we can only be neutral at.
You must realize you can never transform ice into fire yet you can always let that ray of light in you burst into flames.
My second report card came back with an A in mathematics but it was at the expense of getting 2 B+’s more than I had in the last report.
Do not leave your talents untapped. Find what you love and do it!
23rd Issue – February 2012
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration
First Years Last Forever – Scenes from Our Lives – Society of Tomorrow
The Mind’s Eye – To The Point – Words, Observations, and Ramblings