Bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Our lecturer discussed the strengths and weaknesses in class today.’
‘I couldn’t think of any strength,’ said Rahul.
Everybody has strengths,’ said Rakesh. ‘But to use your strengths effectively, you must first know them. Tell me, what are your strengths?’
Rahul scratched his head. ‘Bhaiyya, I think I’m a decent person, reasonably intelligent, okay at table tennis...’
‘Your strengths sound weak,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘Let’s hear your weaknesses.
‘I’m lazy, undisciplined, distracted, unfit, slow…’
‘Stop, stop,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘You seem to know your weaknesses way better than you know your strengths.’
‘True, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘How can we change this?’
‘Look at yourself as if you’re a product,’ said Rakesh. ‘If you have to advertise yourself, what will you focus on — your one strength or your many weaknesses?’
‘The one strength, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku.
‘Right,’ said Rakesh. ‘Which means you must first know your strengths. First, write down your skills, talents and qualities — anything you perceive as your strength. Then, ask five people who know you well to list five of your strengths. That’s an arsenal of 25 strengths to choose from. Feels good?’
‘Wow, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku after they did the exercise. ‘Sprinting, debating, accounting…so many strengths.’
‘From among these strengths, identify the one that gives you an advantage,’ said Rakesh.
‘Sprinting, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku after some thought. ‘I’ve won medals, there’s a world-class stadium near my house with the best coaches — all unique advantages. Accounting’s another — father’s a famous professor.’
‘You’ve identified your biggest strengths,’ said Rakesh. ‘Give them 80 per cent attention and strengthen them.’
‘Why not work on my weaknesses?’ asked Rinku.
‘Your strengths are the easiest way to move ahead, especially when you’re not sure or confident,’ said Rakesh.
‘If you focus on your weaknesses, you’ll dilute your strengths. If you’re a fast runner, work on running faster first instead of building stamina.’
‘Should we ignore our weak areas then?’ asked Rahul.
‘What you focus on grows — so focus on your strengths to start with,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘As your strengths grow, many of your weaknesses diminish. And as you grow confident, you’ll start improving in your weak areas.’
‘Yes, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I feel good already,’ said Rinku.
‘Great,’ said Rakesh. ‘It’s time for some strong coffee, I think.’