Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sundials in the shade

“Give me a specific example of what you would like to call the biggest failure of your life and how you dealt with that?” sounds familiar? Well, this was the question I was asked at a recent job interview. I took a long pause. Its not that I wasn’t prepared for this question but the time it took me to answer that question sure must have exhibited my unpreparedness for the interview. The weird part is, before facing any new challenge or going for a job interview requires us to be well acquainted with our weaknesses. Why? Are they trying to set us up for the next set of failures? Why is it not important for him to find out who am I by knowing what I do best or what my strengths are?

Most organizations are built on the assumption that:

  • one can learn to be competent in almost anything
  • Once you identify or acknowledge your weaknesses, the organization will help manifest growth in those areas through the specific tools or training materials that they might be having in place.

I wasn’t sure if marks in any specific examination or not passing a particular exam or not finding the most desired career path or not working for an XYZ company or …………….what, would I consider my biggest failure? Whether not being able to fulfill the dream of becoming a writer or not seeing my name on the Billboard would fit into the category of failure? Life, to me, is a series of successes and failures. The biggest failure? I don’t understand that. Everything becomes irrelevant in life as we move on. We are always looking for something more, something new or something more challenging. In that respect as long as we are living thriving individuals, these will be a part of life and the fact that I am still looking for more should be a good enough example that I never give up and that’s how I handle it!

I recently finished reading a book by Markus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, called NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGHTS. It tells us that the “the real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths, it’s that we fail to use the ones we have. The acid test of the strength is that it can be done consistently and nearly perfectly which cannot be perfected without an underlying talent to it”. What an eye opening statement it was! Aren’t we always trying to fit in and fix what may not be our strengths? If a person is good at something he is expected to shift direction in the area where he might be lacking so that he can emerge someone with an all round personality. Result is, we end up concentrating toward building a society of mediocres because this all round personality according to me, is a misnomer. Would Tiger Woods start playing Tennis or Whitney Houston start writing novels to have an all round personality? They are doing what they do best. We listen to Joel Osteen because motivational speaking is his natural talent. He worked around his natural talent and is able to draw a crowd of thousands of people. I have read that writing fantasy came naturally to J K Rowling. In fact she wrote her first fantasy story at the age of 6. No wonder she is no.2 on the list of women Billionaires. She worked more and more around it rather than trying to figure out if she could also lay her hands at writing thrillers…………

Well, I found my answer. I knew my failure was not to listen to my instincts and natural talents and trying fix my weak point and fit in…………..I would say listen to your instincts and play around your natural talents. Do you?


Sourabh said...

very true....

Vikas said...

Very pertinent... and I think my weakness isn't much different from the one u mentioned as urs.