Growing up, I never truly learned to play the game of Chess. I remember playing once throughout my entire childhood and my brother Nick kicked my ass so badly that I never played again. Of course, since Nick was my older brother, he rubbed it in my face. I had never played the game before and I didn’t know the rules, but all I knew was that I sucked at the game and losing was so embarrassing that I never tried playing again, until recently.
But over the course of my life I have realized I suck at much more than just Chess. I suck at Golf, I suck at basketball, I suck at grammar (as you may have noticed in my writing) and so much more but once again, when I joined the military it changed the way I see the world.
On the first day of basic training, the Drill Sergeant’s make it very clear just how much you suck at everything. One of the primary goals of basic training is to break you down as an individual and build you back up as a member of a team. In doing so, they exploit your weaknesses with the intention of turning them into strengths. As blunt as their approach may have been, the Drill Sergeants bringing our weaknesses into the spotlight presented us with the opportunity to make necessary changes. It presented us with a chance to face the uncomfortable nature associated with being imperfect. They identified areas of weakness in us as individuals and as members of a team. As challenging as that process may have been, it served its purpose; to make us stronger. I quickly realized that the only way to overcome a weakness is to exploit it!
Years after I was discharged, I was laying in bed bored one night while scrolling through the App store on my phone when Chess popped up. My first instinct was to scroll right by it because I never learned to play the game and I sucked at it but then it hit me. If I avoided everything I sucked at in life, I would be hiding from a lot. I would never walk onto a golf course, I would never play basketball and most importantly, due to sucking at grammar, I would have never written my two books or created TRUE G.R.O.W.T.H. It’s unrealistic to assume we can avoid our weaknesses forever. We don’t need to be experts in every area of life to be successful, but we can’t hide from the parts of life we suck at either. That night in bed I downloaded chess for no reason other than I suck at it.
Months later, I’m still not very good but I play as a reminder to myself of that valuable lesson I learned in basic training; the only way to overcome our weaknesses is to exploit them. Once you have acknowledged their presence you can decide what to do with them. You can either work to overcome that weakness or let it cripple you.
Some people run from the things in life that they suck at, but not me. Some people live their lives focusing solely on making their strengths even stronger, and that’s a solid approach, but I don’t want to be like most people. I live my life to be different. I spent the better portion of my childhood avoiding my weaknesses and it did nothing but make life harder.
We are imperfect beings and acknowledging our weaknesses and faults gives us the opportunity to learn from them and use them as a valuable resource for adding growth to our lives. I believe that focusing solely on our strengths leaves us with untapped potential because our weaknesses still exist. We can choose to ignore our weaknesses and focus solely on our strengths but that doesn’t mean our weaknesses will just disappear.
The problem is rooted in the society we live in. From such an early age, kids are afraid to fail or to make mistakes. They fear the thought of playing a sport that they haven’t mastered yet and they compare themselves to everyone around them with unrealistic expectations. I experiences this first-hand as a kid because I was an average athlete. Now, as I grow into an adult, the same is true. People are afraid to acknowledge their weaknesses. It’s rational to be timid when it comes to acknowledging flaws but life requires us to seize opportunities to make ourselves better. What’s a better place to start than finding something we suck at and starting there? That is why I downloaded Chess.
Honestly, growth is life is relatively easy if we spend each day trying to be better than the last but eventually, we hit a plateau and often times, working harder at the same things isn’t enough the break through that threshold. When your momentum slows, pick something you are bad it, and work on that. If you run from what you’re bad it, you’ll never get better at it. I may never be a national Chess champion, but the game serves as a huge reminder in my life; everyone sucks at something.
Embrace what you suck at as an opportunity to become better. If you continue to hide from what you suck at, it will only hinder your ability to be the best you can be.
Buy my second book, Secrets from Strangers, which shares 18 life changing “secrets” I learned for how to overcome obstacles, live a life of passion and purpose and to find more happiness in the way you live!