David Rendall recently published a compelling Change This essay entitled The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness:
[T]he three primary lessons of this manifesto.
1. There is nothing wrong with you.
(Weaknesses are important clues to your strengths.)
2. You find success when you find the right fit.
(You need to match your unique characteristics to situations that reward those qualities.)
3. Your weaknesses make you different.
(They make you a freak and it’s good to be a freak. )
I'm struck by the parallels between Rendall's imperatives and concepts that are at the core of three texts that are fundamental to my own perspective on personal growth and development:
1. From Co-Active Coaching, by Laura Whitworth, et al:
The primary building block for all co-active coaching is this: Clients have the answers or they can find the answers. From the co-active coach's point of view, nothing is wrong or broken, and there is no need to fix the client.
2. From Peter Drucker's On Managing Oneself:
[M]ost people, especially highly gifted people, do not really know where they belong until they are well past their mid-twenties. By that time, however, they should know the answers to the three questions: What are my strengths? How do I perform? and, What are my values? And then they can and should decide where they belong. Or rather, they should be able to decide where they do not belong... [emphasis mine]
3. From Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones' Why Should Anyone Be Led By You?:
[S]howing weakness...is typically a by-product of the authentic leader's overarching goals and passions. Because they really care about the organization, they reveal themselves...
The reason for this inevitable connection between leadership and personal risk is complex. It begins with an understanding that leadership is for a purpose. There is some superordinate desired end state, which energizes the leader who in turn gives energy to followers. Effective leaders really care about this goal. They care enough to reveal their authentic selves.
A common theme I hear running through all of these texts is: Know yourself; accept yourself; be yourself. And the challenge is to do just that while also striving to learn, grow, and be more effective. They're not mutually exclusive, but so often in the world of personal development and leadership education we focus on "overcoming deficits" or on "fixing problems," and don't pay enough attention to the importance of helping people know, accept and simply be themselves.