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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Focus On Your Strengths


This has become one of my most personal and driving maxims. Simple fact: People don’t change. Each one of has great strengths and corresponding weaknesses.

There’s a ton of powerful research and thinking on why we should not be trying to ‘fix’ our weaknesses… but rather focusing on our strengths! (This is particularly true when comes to finding and hiring good people.)

Here’s a wonderful story that makes this point better than anything I’ve ever heard or read. It’s taken from the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book. It’s called ANIMAL SCHOOL.

Once upon a time, the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world.” So they organized a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming, in fact better than his instructor; but he made only passing grades in flying and was poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his web feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school, so nobody worried about that except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running, but had a nervous breakdown because of so much make up work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He also developed ‘charley horses’ from overexertion and then got C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his own way to get there. (!)

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceedingly well, run, climb, and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their child to a badger and joined the ground hogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

Note: In re-reading this, I just saw how strongly this parallels a lot of our education system.