I took a workplace assessment once to determine my strengths and weaknesses and find better ways to integrate them with the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates. When the results came back, there was one thing that stood out about my strengths, and that was that nothing stood out. There were a number of areas where I scored well enough, but nothing I was particularly good at, though I know myself there are definitely things I’m particularly bad at. The assessor hastened to reassure me that this can be an advantage. I’m a good all-arounder, passably good at a lot of things, even if I’m not excellent at any of them. That’s fine, and I see his point, but in that case I’d at least like to be an excellent all-arounder. Like the best all-arounder around, you know, if I can.
Never mind. I can already think of better all-arounders who have more gifts and more highly developed abilities in more areas than I do. I can play guitar, but only well enough for people to sing along to. I can sing along, too, but you’ll never see me on Eurovision. I enjoy playing basketball, but I’m not tall enough or fast enough to be an all-star. There are plenty of other skills I’ve developed to some degree or another, and some of them are really useful and enjoyable, but I’m nowhere near being the best at any of them.
Maybe that was never the point. Maybe a spot in the Guinness Book Of World Records is not the pinnacle achievement of a life well lived (nothing against it, though). Maybe it’s enough to develop my skills in ways that are truly beneficial to the people around me, and use them that way, and maybe it doesn’t matter two beans if someone else happens to use the same skills more skilfully than I do. Maybe the point of strengths is not to be better than everyone else, but to use them to make things better for everyone else.
I don’t have to be the best at anything to do that.
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