Weakness is where the most excellence can be found.
When making new habits, aim for your weak spots.
“Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.” – George Halas
Theodore Roosevelt lay gasping in bed. At twelve years old, his asthma was so bad that his nightly attacks often left him bedridden for days.
“Theodore, you have the mind but you have not the body,” his father told him, “and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should.”
Theodore Sr. built a gymnasium in their house and said, “You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.”
The fragile young Theodore Jr. could have ignored his father’s advice, pitied his weak body, and focused on developing his greatest strength, his agile and clever intellect.
Instead, he spent five years building up strong muscles in his upper body, supporting his weak lungs, and eliminating his greatest weakness. By his early twenties, Roosevelt had conquered his asthma, and went on to conquer enemy armies and foreign nations as the President of the United States.
We are often advised to ‘play to our strengths,’ and in many situations, this advice can be helpful. However, if all of our strengths are diminished by a weakness that overshadows everything we do in our lives, addressing this weakness can enable all of our other virtues to rise.
None of Roosevelt’s intellectual virtues – his bravery, his shrewdness, his integrity – would have been able to flourish if they were trapped in his weak asthmatic body. By addressing his greatest weakness, Theodore Roosevelt was able to become exponentially greater than he was before.
Besides, the distance between your greatest weakness and simply normal ability is much greater than the distance between your greatest strength and how much better you could possibly be.
Your overall excellence increases most when improving a weakness instead of augmenting a strength.
What is your greatest weakness? How much greater could you be, if you spent one year working on improving this area of your life?
Keep this in mind when it’s time to make a New Year’s Resolution.