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Strengths & Weaknesses

by Rick Baker
On Dec 7, 2011

The great Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Our strength grows out of our weaknesses".

Ralph Waldo Emerson isn't a fellow I would want to debate. Well...let me re-state that. Actually, I would love the opportunity to exchange ideas with Emerson even if the only way to do it was debating him. And, I recognize the likelihood of me winning a debate with Emerson would be pretty close to absolute zero.

I know...more information than you needed...I could not help myself because I rarely disagree with the wisdom Ralph Waldo Emerson put to paper.

...back to the topic of Strengths and weaknesses.

Specifically, I am writing about Strengths and weaknesses people exhibit in workplaces...this is about business.

Speaking about my personal experiences and my observations of other people, I do not believe people's strengths grow out of weaknesses. I like the way the folks at and from the Gallup organization described the source of people's strengths: natural talent themes + specialized, pertinent knowledge + skills development = Strengths, where Strength is the ability to perform actions nearly perfectly almost all the time. [I have written, in some detail, about Strengths.]

The starting point for a person's Strengths is inborn, natural talent.

For the vast majority of people, Strengths are due to innate talents coupled with a lot of hard work.


That is not to say it is impossible to move from what we perceive as weakness to what we perceive as strength. Perhaps, Helen Keller illustrated this best. Helen Keller was born deaf and blind. She overcame these 'weaknesses' to be the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor's Degree. She authored many books. And, she served as an inspiration to millions of people. 

Even still, it is difficult for me to agree with Emerson, "Our strength grows out of our weaknesses".

When I think of Helen Keller, I think "People can do amazing things despite what other people perceive to be weaknesses". And, I think, "Embedded in Helen Keller, deeper than those perceived weaknesses of deafness and blindness, was some innate gift of talent...perhaps it was  - LEARNER". Clearly, Helen Keller also had an amazing desire to ACHIEVE.

Our Strength can grow despite our weaknesses.

Nobody can argue with that!

Comments (4) -

2/25/2012 6:55:51 PM #

"Thoughts of strength both build strength from within and attract it from without."

Ralph Waldo Trine
'In Tune With The Infinite', (1942, 45th Anniversary Edition)

rick baker
4/8/2012 9:43:30 PM #

"Physiologists should think again before postulating the drive to self-preservation as the cardinal drive in an organic being. A living thing desires above all to vent its strength - life as such is will to power -: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of it."

Friedrich Nietzsche
'Beyond Good and Evil', (1886)

rick baker
8/11/2013 10:07:25 PM #

"Strong chieftains always have strong weaknesses. A king's duty is to make a chieftain's strengths prevail."

Wess Roberts
'Leadership Secrets of Attila The Hun' (1985/2009 audio)

rick baker
12/6/2015 7:46:06 PM #

"Weakness on both sides is, as we know, the motto of all quarrels."


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