I read a lot of articles. I especially like articles relating to self-improvement techniques. Constant growth, expansion and empowerment excite me.
This week, while reading one of my favorite magazines, I came across an article that basically discounted the entire self-improvement philosophy. Always being open to new thoughts and suggestions, I read the article and ended up feeling so sorry for the author and many of the people she quoted.
It seems that there is an entire generation in American society who believes that “self improvement” is about taking your weaknesses and attempting to turn them into strengths, or, at the very least, become better at them.
Funny thing; I’ve never thought of self-improvement from that perspective and I can’t recall any of my favorite authors inferring that this is the self-improvement process either.
Here’s how I think of self improvement: Self improvement is the process, or set of processes, by which one becomes who she wants to become. Yes, you can take a weak trait and work on it, develop it, until it becomes stronger within you, if that is what you want. And many of us do that because we understand that acquiring that particular trait would help us achieve our ultimate goal in some way. But to think that self improvement is about taking all of my weaknesses and trying to be good at them? Lord, have mercy, there’s no wonder self improvement gets a bad wrap!
When I think of all the things I’m not good at, and then try to think of becoming strong in them, well, that’s just too overwhelming. To do that would take many, many, lifetimes. There is no way, and not enough time or self-improvement techniques in this world that would make me a good basketball player. Or any sports professional for that matter. Now, if I did care about that sort of thing, I would have a lot of work to do. And I suppose that if I cared about it, I would be fairly good at it, and then I would have something to develop. But here’s my point: It’s not about taking your weaknesses and turning them into strengths, nor is it about just taking your strengths and improving upon them. Self improvement is about looking at where you are compared to where you want to be, then working on getting from here to there.
The basis of my thinking is this: “I’m not trying to create a better world; I just want to create a better me. Who is that? What and who do I want to become? What are my strengths? How can I develop those so that I become even stronger – a leader, if you will, in that area? What are the weaknesses within me that would hold me back from becoming the leader I want to be in that area? How can I develop those? Can I develop those? Do I need to develop those? Can I/should I leverage someone else’s strengths in that area so that I don’t have to develop those?”
I have a perfect example of this for you. My husband is a Dentist. He’s also very good with computers, and an excellent musician. He’s not so good with things around the house like, electrical, plumbing, etc. – you know, the kinds of things that most men feel they need to do with their time off in order to feel like “real men.”
My husband spends no time on this issue at all. He spends his time off learning something new about dentistry, working on his computers, or nourishing his spirit with music. He does not waste his precious time off reading do-it-yourself project books. When something needs to done around the house that I cannot do, we hire someone else, at $10 per hour to do those things for us.
I asked him once when we were first married why he so readily hired this kind of help instead of trying to do the job himself. He had a very quick, easy-to-understand reply: “I’ve seen the results of when people try to pull their own teeth.”
Until next time,
This post was written by Debra Moorhead, Motivation, Education, Inspiration on July 6, 2007