The Way of Adventure
An Unconventional Online Course for Young People

Unique Strengths

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.”
-Marilyn vos Savant

Adventure begins by identifying your strengths and then capitalizing on them.

Ashima Shiraishi, born in 2001, is youngest person to climb “V15”—essentially the highest level of difficulty in the climbing world.

Ashima discovered climbing while walking through Central Park in New York and seeing rock climbers at a local rock. She was six years old. When she began climbing herself, Ashima discovered a natural talent that her parents nurtured with support and training.

Ashima isn’t yet old enough to drive, but she’s already started crafting an adventurous life—because she found a strength and capitalized on it. She didn’t ignore her passion and talent for climbing because she thought she “should” become a dancer (as her parents had encouraged her earlier in life).

Of course, stories like these are oversimplified. They leave out important details and nuances. But the spirit of the tale is valid. Ask any adventurous person in your life if they arrived at their current place in life. Did they design their lives around a core set of strengths, or did they try to mold their lives to follow a certain path—even if they had little aptitude for it—”fixing” their weaknesses along the way?

This challenge involves discovering your unique strengths, but not through the usual approach.

You’ve undoubtedly taken quizzes or personality tests before that asks you to identify your strengths. The trouble is, we are sometimes not the best judges of our characters. We think we know what we’re good and bad at, but more often it is the people around us who know better.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Think of five people who know you well: friends, family members, significant others, co-workers, teachers, bosses, etc. Choose people from as many different categories as possible (i.e., not just family members or friends).
  2. Set up a time to talk to each person, whether in-person, over the phone, Skype, or email.
  3. Ask them the following two questions: “When you have seen me at my best, what was I doing?” and “When you have seen me at my worst, what was I doing?” (Feel free to reframe these questions, for example: “When have you seen me happiest and most in control of myself?” or “When have you seen my handle a hard situation poorly?”)
  4. Encourage them to share specifics instead of generalities. Ask for examples and stories. Resist the urge to engage in discussion or defend yourself: just listen and take good notes.
  5. When you’ve completed your talks, review your notes and identify any recurring themes. What seem to be your gifts, talents and strengths? What seem to be your blind spots, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses?
  6. Publish a summary of what you discovered on your portfolio. Only write as much as you feel comfortable sharing—it doesn’t have to be everything, of course.


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Feeling stronger!