Let’s talk strength

Most of us are familiar with the term SWOT, which stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat. It is an assessment technique to gauge our situation, mostly in an organization or business.

More often than not, we tend to dwell on our weaknesses and threats. This is true on a professional or personal level. We highlight things we don’t have or have too little of.

How many times do we look at ourselves and secretly think “I wish I could be more …”? Chances are, this thought is sometimes followed by a feeling of being small and incompetent.

Last week during a workshop for volunteers to help families with autistic children in Jakarta, MPATI, the facilitator offered an alternative way of looking at things. He invited us to focus on our strengths, to look at what we have, individually and collectively.

So we did just that. We focused on our strengths. One by one, each of us said what we could contribute to the group.

One said she was a parent of an autistic child and, hence, had the firsthand experience. Another one ran a nursery and kindergarten for needy children, some with special needs. Another worked in a government agency. Another worked in marketing and had good social network.

We also included, in the things that we had, our spirit and intention. All of us shared the enthusiasm to help others in need. All of us acknowledged that we care and have the willingness. All of us had the intention to work together for the purpose of assisting less fortunate families with autistic children.

We then discussed a shared vision that we wanted to achieve. We looked at the gap between the vision and our strengths. That gap is where our work lies. Each started to propose a solution to close the gap. We started to see that the vision is not so far-fetched after all.

Collectively, we realize we have what it takes to make a difference, no matter how large or small. It feels so empowering and reassuring.

This principle of focusing on strength is universal. It applies to all of us and in practically all the things we do, both on a collective as well as individual level.

Each of us was born with certain characteristics. Some we call our strengths, some our weaknesses. While it is positive to work on our weaknesses, we also need to admit that we cannot always be an all-rounder. We cannot be good at everything.

But we are good at something. There is always something that we are better than most people. There are certain characteristic where we are stronger than others. Perhaps that is an indication of our role in the society.

If each of us work on and contribute our strengths, then collectively, we will be invisible for the betterment of all. That’s the beauty of a collective force.

Imagine what 250 million Indonesians can achieve if we put our heart and mind together for this country.

The article was first published on the Jakarta Globe’s blog, titled “Focus on Your Strengths to Make a Difference.”

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