Rabbits can hop through a field at lightning speed, but don’t try to force a rabbit to swim. Leave him to do what he’s best at – jumping and running. Likewise, don’t try to teach a pig how to sing. It’s a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.
It is natural in Forum to encourage our peers to work on weak areas. But we can’t be good at everything. There is an opportunity cost when we focus on our weaknesses. It robs us of time and energy to build on our strengths.
What if Forums instead try a strengths-based approach? It proposes that we are better off when we focus on discovering and expanding our strengths. To take what things we do well and concentrate on getting even better at them.
You can use this quick exercise to begin the process. Ask each Forum member to write down the greatest strength of each Forum member. Then, one person at a time sits in the “hot seat” and the group shares what they think are this person’s greatest strengths.
Set aside any thoughts about identifying and addressing weaknesses, at least for now. Just let the rabbit jump instead of swim, let the pig squeal instead of sing and let the Forum members do more of what they do best.
Strengths theory can be applied to many aspects of life. In the workplace, it could apply to ensuring that people are in the right seat, using their strongest skills in their everyday work activities. For children, it could mean encouraging them in school subjects where they excel rather than criticizing their work in subjects where they’re weak. In the Forum, it could mean tapping in to each member’s strength – learning from each other and even assigning Forum roles based on each person’s strengths. Building people up in their strongest areas can produce amazing results!
You can learn more about strengths theory in Soar With Your Strengths by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. Catherine Nomura, Julia Waller and Shannon Waller, authors of Unique Ability 2.0 developed another great resource.