We all have strengths. I don’t think it’s bragging to acknowledge them. And, I have no problem with people embracing them and using them to their advantage. In fact, I think more people should.
What I do have a problem with is never stepping outside them. You can’t get better at something without doing it. The old adage “Crazy is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results,” is only half true. While I agree that you can’t expect things to change without making some changes yourself, you also shouldn’t just run away or avoid your problems.
Maybe I’m a different kind of crazy, but I constantly find myself doing the very things that I’m not necessarily good at, rather than the things at which I already excel.
Let’s take last year, for example…
I have a pretty awesome success rate for writing legal briefs; I rarely back down from a spirited debate; I love to stand up in court to argue before a judge; but the idea of actually trying a case — to a jury — scared the hell of out me. Sure, I could have stayed in my office churning out briefs, but instead, I took a three-month hiatus to work as a Prosecutor at the District Attorney’s office. I tried my first case on day four. Three months later, I had tried over 20 cases. (Yes, math-whizzes, that’s an average of 2 per week!) I grew more from this experience than I probably even know. It was humbling, enlightening, exhilarating, and heart-breaking all at once. Every. Single. Day. I’m not only a better attorney for it, but I’m also a better person.
I’ve been a decent yogi for a few years; I haven’t struggled much with my weight since high school; but I also wasn’t exactly ‘fit’. I rarely did any cardio work, and you were likely to find me watching TV in the evenings. (Hard to imagine now, I know.) Sure, I could have maintained the status quo, practicing yoga sporadically and spending most nights on the sofa. But, no, what did I do? I started training for a half marathon and then a full marathon. Now, I have a bad case of the blahs if I miss even one day — go figure.
So, with the other aspects of my life finally feeling settled, the question is: What’s next?
I’m glad you asked because I have a TON of ideas!! Unfortunately, they require me to admit that there are many things that I’m not good at doing. So, bear with me while I make a few confessions…
1. I’m not great at riding my bike outside in large groups.
I loved my indoor class because I could hop on the Computrainer and get in a great workout without thinking about clipping in and out, watching for traffic, stopping and starting at red lights, and all the other aspects of road riding. But, when the time came to decide whether to sign up for another quarter, I had to accept that getting stronger on the trainer was pretty pointless if I couldn’t repeat it on the road. So, I’m doing group rides and rallies. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes I get dropped. But, it’s always SUPER fun and keeps me coming back for more! 🙂
2. My impromptu photography skills need work.
It’s one thing to spend time setting up the perfect portrait. It’s something entirely different to capture a great candid, but I think those are the most genuine shots. The moments you want to remember are the ones where people were being themselves — the quick, loving glance a husband gives his wife when he thinks no one is looking; the smile on a child’s face when he spots his mommy; or the laughter at a good party. So, I signed up for a hands-on workshop with one my favorite photographers on capturing everyday moments.
3. I may be a decent cook, but I am not a great baker.
Sometimes the idea of measuring to perfection and patiently waiting for it to set, bake, cool, etc. is a major drag. Of course, this is probably the reason that my sweets often don’t turn out the way I’d like. So, I may join The Daring Bakers, a nationwide network of foodies who challenge each other to try a new recipe each month. Everyone must bake the exact same super-secret recipe, photograph it, and then blog about it on the same day. It’s a great way to force me outside my kitchen comfort zone and finally master the art of things like tiramisu and cannoli. Plus, it’s crazy fun to see how many different ways people create the exact same thing.
The lesson I’ve learned is that pushing my limits and daring to do that which I think can’t more often than not leads to new passions and loads of fun. Come to think of, maybe the willingness to wallow in your weaknesses is a strength in and of itself. And, now, we’ve come full circle. Darn, I hate it when that happens. 😉
What will you challenge yourself to do?