Strength is often seen as a display of might, be it in physique, through aggression or foolhardy bravado. The gyms are full of people aiming to ape their six pack heroes, the exaggerated use of lung power backed occasionally by physical violence to prove one’s right are symptomatic of the malady that mistakenly believe that strength is in overpowering through might. Equally damaging is the mistaken belief that anyone who backs out from a challenge, takes a soft and calm approach or attempts to ignore provocation is a sissy or coward. The truth though is that real strength lies inbeing forceful without being aggressive, standing up to be counted rather than giving a standing count to a weakling and is best exemplified when backing out gracefully when the engagement is not worth it. This is well underscored in the following anecdote.
There is an interesting tale told about a Lion who consistently refused to battle a skunk. The skunk went around proclaiming the Lions fear and his superiority to the Lion when it came to a battle. The Lion still went about nonchalantly about his business. Upon being pressed for a reason for refusing to battle a skunk, he replied that he refused such a battle because as king of the jungle he didn’t want to be seen in the company of a skunk.
Then there is also the huge problem of misplaced machosim masquerading as strength.. Misplaced machoism, be it indulging in road rage, ragging juniors or taking umbrage at the slightest perceived affront is often the result of the mistaken notion, that one can display one’s strength to substantiate one’s worth. The real strength as exemplified by Mahatma Gandhi is in treading the tougher path of non violence, registering protest by peaceful means and retaining one’s dignity in the face of compelling provocation. Unfortunately unscrupulous politicians and radical religious fundamentalist are often guilty of attempting to provoke, incite and frenzy up support, particularly for wantonly misplaced causes through a slew of rabble rousing speeches and conveniently interpreted truth of happenings around. The objective of such tirades being, to influence support through a show of strength in numbers, as well as through demonstrated violence and mayhem.
Contrast this with the trend of peaceful demonstrations, candle light marches, black armband protests and resolution by dialogue and empathy. True these methods are more long drawn in getting results, cannot be a very effective substitute for dealing with continued aggression or be the only alternative at all times but by and large they deliver more lasting and acceptable results. Equally important is the realization that it takes greater strength to withdraw or throw in the towel when it is imminent or give in so as to live to fight another day. Strength is best demonstrated when one stands up to own up a mistake, genuinely accepts failures and heartily applauds a better victor. The ultimate strength is often perceived to be in sacrificing one’s life for another but equally important is the strength that allows one to take on the responsibility for another’s faults and failures and live with the shame, the blame and the infamy of a an act never committed by you. The greatest strength you can posses is to be accepted by others as someone dependable, trustworthy and honorable.
Rate your personal strengths on the following parameters by rating them from 1-10 with your best strength being rated 10 and the least rated 1. Each perceived strength should have only one unique rating number. Can you think of examples from your life to justify the 2 most important strengths and the 2 lowest strengths?
A common lament often heard is that ‘ I am not creative’. The reality though is that each one of us is blessed with a wide and wild imagination. This imagination definitely sparks of creative ideas and hence each of us is exceedingly creative. Unfortunately, to our way of thinking, all our creative ideas seem stupid, silly or irrational in our personal assessment. On the other hand we admire the creativity of others particularly when the idea works. Remember the ZooZoo advertisements! Imagine for a moment that you got that idea. You can be sure you would not even share it for fear of looking like a fool. Yet there was someone who believed in that imaginative idea and the results are there for all to see. The advertisement arena is populated with fabulous examples of imagination resulting from intelligence having fun.
Here are 3 ways to spark your imagination
Soak in – The objective is to widen the scope of our intelligence. Use each and every faculty / senses we are blessed with. Read extensively; intensively; purposefully. Don’t shy away from new experiences, failures, possibilities. Accept praise, criticism and rejection.
Spew out – We can soak in only if we empty ourselves. The focus is on generating images, ideas, possibilities. Stretch the mind, the body and the soul. Take risks, defy convention, create your own path.
Sell it – This is the toughest phase because you sell the imaginative ideas to yourself first. Unless you believe in it no one else will. Visualize possibilities by adapting it, changing it, refocusing on the alternatives. Convince yourself by focusing on the end result, the success that is guaranteed and the power of yourself belief. Share it with friends, critics and customers. Create a demand, a customer and a sale.
Think of a unique gift for your teacher the value of which must not exceed Rs.100
Attempt at least one of the following and share it with a friend/ parent/ or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Write an original limerick
Drawing a cartoon or finding 3 different cartoons (each by a different cartoonist) that you love
Create an (expansion) acronym for the word SPEED or DARE
Create a PPT titled ‘ This is me’ – have not more than 5 slides and maximum of 5 photos
Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good. Bertolt Brecht
Observe a tiny tot making his/her first move to becoming a toddler. It would first attempt to stand and promptly fall for it lacks the balance and the strength in the legs. Yet the natural urge to get up and be independent will stimulate the tiny one to keep pegging away despite many a futile attempt. At this point the concept of failure and mistakes is alien to the little one and that helps the little ones have no inhibitions or apprehensions.
As one grows up we acquire many a skill and knowledge and with it the concept of success and failure, right and wrong, possibilities and impossibilities, truth and fiction etc. In this process making mistakes is often severely punished and kudos liberally given to those who do not make mistakes and they are considered intelligent. As a result the average person tries hard not to fail and make mistakes and therefore avoid anything that hints at failure. Yet ironically no invention or discovery or noteworthy contribution of the human race has ever been error free or perfect in the first attempt. This brings us to a notable reality that success is in harnessing ones intelligence to pursue ones dreams against all odds and achieve it.
Mistakes could be due to a number of reasons from overlooking the obvious to complete misjudgment is one such spectrum. It could also be due to carelessness, misunderstanding, inefficiency and /or wrong assumptions. The net result though is that the end result we seek is not achieved thereby implying failure which in turn leads us to question our own competence and intelligence. Yet for those who believe in themselves, the mistakes are merely a pointer to the elimination of a failed possibility thus offering us the opportunity to pursue another line of thinking by harnessing our intelligence.
Creativity and logic form the axis around which intelligence revolves. Memory, quick thinking, number crunching and reasoning polish up the shine of intelligence. However, intelligence unless harnessed and utilized remains just an adjective but mistakes provide the perfect opportunity to translate it into an active verb. Real intelligence is in also recognizing that even the most perfect person is bound to make a mistake and that despite that one can attain unparalleled success if one were to relook the mistake and make the corrections. It is said that Jesus Christ got 1 out of 12 decisions wrong when he chose Judas to be one of his 12 disciples because ultimately he betrayed Christ.
Remember: “Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used” Dr. Carl Sagan
Jot down the 3 biggest mistakes of your life. Were you solely responsible for each of those mistakes? If yes does the consequence of the mistake still rankle you? What was the learning from each of these mistakes?
Assuming that you made all the three mistakes mentioned below which of these would you want to correct first if you had an opportunity to do so? Why have you chosen that option?
You could not give your exams due to poor attendance and therefore lost an academic year.
Your drove your car in pouring rain with the driver’s side wiper not working and as a result banged into a care ahead of you which braked suddenly. The other car was damaged badly and the driver of that car had to be hospitalized.
You broke up with your partner over a minor misunderstanding and are not on talking terms simply because you want your partner to apologize first.