Strengths and Weaknesses, are they really separable?

“When should I listen to The Haters Ltd. and when should I simply dismiss what they are saying because they are doing what they do best?” is one of the most pressing questions on my mind.

Many psychologists believe that within each of us is an inner critic that is constantly repeating back what the haters said on social media or over lunch, or even more serious, negative feedback from our managers and peers.

For philosophy students and enthusiasts the duality/non-duality problem (what could be summed up as “Is everything black and white?” in normal people terms) is a serious one, and is one that some never take a stance on. This may be because in the real world one is required operate within default binary frameworks because we simply lack the time (and intellectual capacity) to acknowledge nuance in every situation. Failing to acknowledge nuance tends to put people in lots of awkward situations including the place between “the write and wrong situation” , and in my case the place between “your strengths and weaknesses”.

A decade ago I would most likely be fine with he neat separation of strengths and weaknesses. At this point in life however I find myself more and more skeptical of this separation when it’s brought up and emphasised by mentors, HR, peers and so on.

Through my reading and research into what has been happening in the past two decades in the tech world, and in the world generally, I’ve come across what I always suspected was the case: the mere fact that in our fast paced world strengths and weaknesses rotationally swap places. Before you know it the big dogs get crippled by their strengths, and all their tricks that they carefully worked out over a long period of time, and the small dogs take the crown with all their nifty little weaknesses (and vice versa). The technology revolution we are living in only serves to speed up this process.

In the case of my peers and I, as the first generation to be born free in South Africa, and people in their formative years who also happen to be at the forefront of the technology revolution, I think our challenge is in figuring out the previous rules written about strengths and weaknesses and seeing if they are still relevant. We must keep in mind that by adopting the same strengths and weaknesses framework as the previous generation we risk creating the same world that they lived in. This is a huge challenge, especially if you factor in the nuances of adapting the framework for your own personal inclinations and journey.

For the previous generation — mentors, parents and such — I think the challenge is in accepting that strengths and weaknesses won’t always look the same. Some qualities that were strengths in the previous generation simply do not matter in this generation, and some that were weaknesses are strengths in this generation. Or just in this year.

All in all, I think our challenge is in establishing what we can improve on without falling into the mental trap of thinking that the world of tomorrow will look exactly the same as the world of today, and understanding that the same applies to the strengths and weaknesses framework.

I build software and occasionally have thoughts on non-software related subjects.

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