Could you imagine walking into a room bawling your eyes out in response to some really bad news? As you approach a friend, this friend sees you swimming in tears and says, “hey girl, what’s … (wait for it) RIGHT?” Yes, she asked, not “what’s wrong?” but “what’s right?” You’d probably be thrown off by that. I, on the other hand, might assume they’d been reading “Discover Your Strengths” by Tom Rath, based on the research findings of psychologist Don Clifton.
This book encourages the reader to shift away from a focus on weaknesses onto a focus on strengths—from asking “what’s wrong?” to “what’s right?”
Research shows that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies (Rath, p. I).
This information is all-out fascinating to me! It also sounds a wee bit familiar. Perhaps, the Father of Psychology caught wind of the apostle Paul’s message to the church in Philippi. Paul said to this group of people, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
There you have it! Paul said it in 49 AD and these researchers are saying it today: “What’s right?” From the workplace to the home and into our community settings, there is a dire need to redirect our time and energy on our individual and collective strengths—what we do well, what we enjoy, what has gone right.
This approach gives us a boost of positive energy that leads to increased productivity and improved quality of life in general. If, in the midst of my tears, as legit and valid as they may be, I’m given a platform of sorts to share one thing I love to do, one thing at which I flat-out rock, one strength, one positive truth about myself, that will generate that productivity and peace that Don and Paul are promising.
Let’s try it! We all have weaknesses. Hard times come along often enough to point those out oh so well. Our society—our bosses, co-workers, neighbors, not to mention, the person in the mirror—is ready and willing to keep us focused on all that is wrong.
How about we take Don’s and certainly Paul’s advice and think, not about what is wrong, but instead what is true, what is noble, what is right!