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Coming to Terms with the Limits of Your Strengths

July 31, 2012

I always wanted to be extraordinarily good at something. Not just as in, “Great job, Jimbo!” No, I wanted to be best-in-class, awe-inspiring, elite good; a world-renowned prodigy, like Michael Phelps (circa 2008), or Mark Zuckerberg.

Unfortunately, my version of reality did not quite line up with this delusional vision. I was a good swimmer, but I peaked at the collegiate State Championships level. My academic record was pretty solid, but I never would have made it into one of those ivy-league schools.

Though I rose to above-average status in a couple areas, the disappointing truth was that I would never amount to anything more than a mid-sized fish in a small pond. God apparently had other plans.

What drove me crazy, though, was the superstar talent thrown in my face at every turn. Some folks just seemed to get an unfair whopping dose of it. Why couldn’t I be like Bernie Williams, the famed New York Yankees player who also happens to be a world-class jazz guitar virtuoso?

Some say greatness is simply a function of putting in the practice time. Around ten thousand hours, to be precise, according to author Malcolm Gladwell. I don’t question the theory of devoting herculean efforts to develop one’s expertise, but it seems that raw talent is equally important. You either have it or you don’t.

I’ve heard that as people approach middle age, their life satisfaction increases because they begin to accept the gap between the expectations for themselves and the reality. After a few frustrating decades of grinding it out without the desired results, we eventually come to terms with how our lives turned out, even if it falls far short of our idealized youthful aspirations.

Hope bends, it seems.

To read the rest of this life-altering post, click here to get over to The High Calling.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2012 9:26 pm

    I wonder how many middle aged people just give up. I feel the same inadequacies. Friends getting published (you! and others). Coworkers getting promotions.A friend who just paid his house off. And I just feel frustrated at times. I could just give up — never gonna amount to anything, just like the Liar told me all along. But then I look at reality. It’s not so bad. And as long as I’m breathing, there’s still a shot.

  2. Dan Black on Leadership permalink
    August 2, 2012 1:46 pm

    This was a great post.

  3. August 21, 2012 9:57 pm

    One thing is certain, you’re a terrific, inspired writer. 😉

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