What If Your Biggest Weakness Became Your Strength?
February 24, 2016
Sunday morning on Meet the Press, Chuck Todd turned to his bi-partisan panel debating over what outrageous remark might knock Trump out of contention. He posed the question, “What if everything we thought was his weakness is actually a strength?” And then he went to commercial.
Not a bad move for live TV when you don’t want to answer the question.
But for the rest of us, maybe it is an important question we want to answer: Can we turn our weaknesses into strengths? And if so, what does it take?
Virgin CEO Richard Branson wrote in his 2012 book that his struggles with dyslexia became his greatest strength. It taught him how to be an efficient manager which he believes was crucial to his success. Academy Award winning director Steven Spielberg has said that because he had dyslexia he daydreamed through school. He credits those daydreams as the core foundation of his storytelling abilities. And while we don’t have accurate records, many believe Thomas Edison had dyslexia and that Albert Einstein would be diagnosed with autism were he alive today.
Why is it that some people are able to let their talents shine in spite of the obstacles? Or is it, as Branson and Spielberg sort of claim, that their weaknesses created their strengths? Are we all born with this capacity to turn our weaknesses into strengths? Or is it our environment that enables us to optimize our abilities despite perceived limitations?
Neuropsychologists cannot [yet] provide us with the prescription of exactly how to maximize our strengths and minimize the impact of our weaknesses. But they can tell us that each of us is born with a distinct cognitive profile as a starting point. And that environment and nurture can have a significant influence on whether we maximize the strengths in that profile, allow our weaknesses to hold us back, or fall somewhere in the middle.
And since the skeptic might say only a select few with such exceptional talent can overcome their weaknesses, one director, Thomas Ropelewski, decided to make a movie entitled “2e Twice Exceptional.” The documentary is about a group of gifted high school students at Bridges Academy in California. These students all have superior talents while at the same time are faced with learning differences including dyslexia, autism and ADHD. At a time in their development when many teenagers might want nothing more than to fit in, their exceptional talents and evident challenges make them constantly stand out.
We were so inspired by this movie, that we worked with the Princeton Public Library to bring you a free screening on Sunday, March 6th at 3pm. The 45 minute movie will be followed by a discussion and Q&A with a panel of local experts in child psychology and education, including Dr. Elinor Bashe, child psychologist and specialist in giftedness, as well as Susan Morris, Principal and Director of Education at the Bridge Academy (no relationship to the school in the movie). If you want to believe in the importance of hard work, motivation and a supportive environment to enable your child to conquer the world, come and join us for this screening. We aren’t the only ones captivated by this movie. Check the 2e website for other screenings nationwide. If you can’t find a screening but are sufficiently intrigued, you can purchase the DVD.
And whether or not your child is classified as 2e, the reality is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few straight-forward strategies to help your child develop a greater self-awareness and position himself to optimize his strengths in spite of any weaker skills. Click on either box for our experts’ advice.