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Strengths and Weaknesses

When I was a young RN at the hospital, we would have mandatory classes. These classes would focus on different topics including self-awareness and different personalities. I remember one class. Although I don’t recall everything about this class, one particular exercise has stuck with me.

We were asked to list our strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think I stand alone in being able to easily list my weaknesses. Listing my strengths was a bit tough. I thought the point of the exercise was going to be to notice how easily it is to focus on our weaknesses and not our strengths. I thought they were going to go into a speech about focusing on our strengths and not our weaknesses. Then the presenter said something that blew me away and this is what has stuck with me all these years later.

“What if your weaknesses are your greatest strengths?”

Process that question for a moment.

I want to point out that our weaknesses are what we perceive them to be. We have a lot of perceptions about ourselves. Many times these perceptions are based on experiences that have influenced us either positively or negatively.

I looked at my list and one that stood out was shy and quiet. I’ve always been quiet. In fact, I got voted most shy in my graduating class. This is one of those experiences that I viewed as negative. I was actually embarrassed by this label. I always wanted to be one of those outgoing, fun, life of the party type of people. Being voted most shy reinforced that I was not the person I wanted to be. In my mind, being shy or quiet meant being weak. At 18, heading into the real world, I did not want to be viewed as weak.

Back to the mandatory work class. “What if your weaknesses are your greatest strengths?”

I was blown away by this question because I had never thought of being shy or quiet as a strength. In fact, I had viewed it as being weak. How could this be a strength?

I’ve had people tell me that I make them feel calm. I don’t do anything in particular that I’m aware of to cause this effect. It just happens. I’m a good listener. I think things through before I speak. I have merely held a hand of a patient without words to comfort them. Being quiet is one of my greatest strengths. It took looking at it from a different angle to realize this.

So how does this relate to horses? We are told many things when it comes to horses. We are told what we should do with them, how we should do it, and how we should feel about it. Many trainers and clinicians are taking different approaches to how they teach these days. Many of us who have been around horses for some time, may be holding on to certain experiences that have influenced how we feel about ourselves and our horsemanship.

I challenge you to write a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Then write a list of strengths and weaknesses related to horses. Now view your weaknesses and discover that they are also your strengths. Changing our belief in how we view ourselves will have a major impact in our lives and in our horsemanship. Focus on these new found strengths and see if there is a shift in your relationship with your horse. Maybe there will be and maybe there won’t. See if there is a shift in you.

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