Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Freak Factor

I just finished a really interesting book by David Rendall, a speaker I heard at the ASCD 2017 conference. His book, The Freak Factor argues that your mother's advice to work on improving your weaknesses is entirely wrong. Instead, we should think of our weakness as uniqueness and flaunt it.

His argument was pretty convincing, once I took the Freak Factor test he includes in the book. He demonstrates that every strength we have can also be perceived as a weakness: someone who is organized can also be seen as rigid; spontaneous people can also be too impulsive; creative people are often disorganized, and so on. My test showed that I am reflective and thoughtful, but that can come across as quiet and shy. I am analytical and rational, but that also comes with being critical and judgmental. I'm patient and cautious, but that is also the same as being slow and indecisive.

Rendall's point is that if someone who is creative (and also disorganized) tried to work on becoming more organized, they'd be undoing the very thing that makes them unique. This is because their creativity is inextricably linked to disorganization. Altering one alters the other.

Instead of trying to change ourselves, we should embrace our true nature, take the good with the bad. Rendall tells quite a few stories of people who tried unsuccessfully to go against their nature and ended up unhappy and in unfulfilling jobs. He argues that we should avoid the things we hate and find someone else who enjoys that task to do it instead. Just because you hate that task doesn't mean everyone hates it. Pay attention to what you procrastinate about - it's a sure sign that's not your strength.

Overall, the book has me thinking about how to be happier in my life and stop fighting my own nature by trying to be something I'm not.

Thoughts on what you feel like your strengths and corresponding weaknesses are? How might you embrace those?