Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Improve your Weaknesses or your Strengths?

copyright Jason Langheine (Creative Commons)

I blew it this past week. I found a letter addressed to my 6-year-old daughter in the back of one of my books. Someone had given it to me a week earlier. Unfortunately, it was an invitation to her good friend’s birthday party. I delivered it two days late.

Deliveries have never been a strength. Generally, my mind is so busy with problems to solve, ideas to implement, people to engage that I easily forget about the sweet handwritten note I am supposed to deliver. I don’t like this about myself. It is a weakness that I have tried to improve for years. Things have changed, somewhat, but I can’t seem to break through to the next level. Or should I even try?

This I do know, it is not OK for me to say one thing—”yes I will deliver that note”—and do another thing—not deliver the note. This was evident as I was apologizing to Izzy for ruining her friends birthday. But, what other options do I have?

Option One: Go back to middle school and learn to pass notes

In middle school, I was never much of a note-passer. Perhaps that is my problem. I need to come up with personal development plan to improve as a delivery man. Something like this:

Problem: I forget to deliver things

Goal: 100% delivery rate

Root Issue: I am too distracted by other things

Step 1: Keep a list of things I need to deliver (perhaps on my phone). When someone asks me to give something to someone else, write it down.

Step 2: Develop a habit of checking the list daily

Step 3: Recruit someone to keep me accountable for my delivery habits.

Perhaps, if I consistently work at these steps, I can improve in this area of weakness. But, is this the best use of my energy? There is another option.

Option Two: Politely refuse to deliver things for people.

I am serious about this. If I wanted deliver messages I would have become a postman. For the past few years, I have tested out this strategy. A colleague recently asked me to get bring her something from my wife. Here is how the conversation went:

“Hey Josh, Taylor has a DVD for me. Can you bring it tomorrow morning to our meeting?”

“Well, I am not sure you want me to do that. I am not a good delivery man.”

She laughed. “Just ask Taylor for it when you get home.”

“No, I’m serious. I will probably forget. When I get home, my kids jump on me. Then it is dinner time. Then bedtime. Then it is pass out time. Most likely I will forget.”

“You can’t remember one DVD?”

“Probably not. You could call me tonight to remind me if you want.”


She forgot to call and I forgot the DVD. It took three days for me to actually get the DVD into my bag and successfully deliver it.

What if I had been more clear at the beginning? “I would love to help, but, honestly, if you want that DVD it will probably be faster for you to get it directly from Taylor.”

Would that be rude? or wrong? Or is that taking an honest assessment of my strengths and weaknesses and living appropriately?

If I spend all my time and energy improving my weaknesses, what’s left for being who God made me to be? (you can tweet that if you want)

Something needs to change

Something needs to change in me. But what? Do I improve my weaknesses or do I focus on my strengths?

What do you think? What should I do—option one or two?

I am open for your feedback.

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