#TT4T Book Study – Turn Weakness Into Strength

Note: This is an ongoing book study started by Chase Orton about Tim Ferris' Tools of Titans. Intro Post

I was reading this week about how different people have taken what were considered weaknesses and turned them into their greatest strengths. Take Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about his heavy accent even after being in the United States for several years:

Arnold was able to use his biggest “flaws” as his biggest assets, in part because he could bide his time and didn’t have to rush to make rent. He shared an illustrative anecdote from the Terminator set: “Jim Cameron said if we wouldn’t have had Schwarzenegger, then we couldn’t have done the movie, because only he sounded like a machine.”

He took what critics told him was preventing him from further roles and made it something that became his trademark.

As teachers we often face the same thing. I’ve read books (can’t remember from where!) where they talk about some teachers on teams maybe aren’t great teachers, so make up for it by being really nice people. Or maybe the teacher who is always involved in fundraising and supervising sports never comes to the professional learning community collaboration time. For myself personally, I found that while I understood the math well, I wasn’t very good at things like recognizing kids birthdays, or even sometimes recognizing when discipline wasn’t quite what I needed it to be in a classroom. In other words, I was so inside my head about the lesson I would miss the bigger story of what was going on in my classroom.

This flaw was pointed out to me by the principal who became my friend that shaped my teaching career the most, Jeremy Ward at Computech Middle School. He had a good way through feedback in Google Docs and in person about being honest about what he saw. Organization was the root cause of my struggles – often I’d be fumbling from class to class for markers or materials that I would miss the cues from kids coming into class.  So over time I was able to become a minimalist teacher, and with less, “stuff,” I became more effective.  Likewise, I was able to point this out to both students and other teachers who may have struggled with being able to focus on the task at hand.

What are your weaknesses that you have turned into strengths?

3 thoughts on “#TT4T Book Study – Turn Weakness Into Strength”

  1. In my classroom, I had my go to supplies all the time at hand. Now that I travel and support school districts it is a little bit harder to make sure that I have everything with me. Thanks to my beautiful wife, I am now well organized. For Father’s Day I received a travel tote with everything that I need from pencils to Staples, shirts and even ties. If there was one thing in my bag that I am most proud about it is the questions that I ask and not the materials that I have. You can turn any lesson extraordinary if you just ask the right questions.

    1. I travel a lot for my work as a coach and PD provider as well, and my lack of organization has often hindered my professional (and personal) growth. So I’ve learned to savor the the chaos and transitions that traveling can bring by using it to continue to keep out of a routine and keep seeking new perspectives. Traveling also forces me to travel light. Like Brandon, I’ve also learned to be more of a minimalist. Having less things to order is sometimes the best solution to an organization problem. And it forces us to be more efficient in our processes (such as effective questioning). Sometimes the right perspective or the right question can create more order.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *