Your greatest strength

It was a high noon showdown with my brother Jeff.  He had challenged me to a dirt clod duel, and code of honor prevented me from backing down.  Dirt clods were plentiful on the edge of the alley, baked to a crackly crunch in the Illinois sun.  Like ancient warriors, we held up steel trash can lids to protect us from a direct blow to the face.

I was emboldened by the story of David and Goliath I had just heard at Sunday School.  Not just because my name was David, but because this little guy took on a giant with just a few stones and won. It’s a story about faith, about standing your ground, about looking fear in the eye and taking your shot.

My older brother Jeff was a goliath – a star pitcher on his little league team and multi-sport athlete.  And I… was not. I was more like the waterboy.  Yet there I stood, squinting sweat from my eyes in the sunlight.  I summoned all my courage, threw my dirt clod with all my might and landed my shot… 5 yards in front of Jeff’s feet, in a pathetic poof of dust.

My throwing motion rotated my shield behind me, leaving me exposed.  That’s when my eyes focused in on the spinning projectile bearing down on me at high speed. It hit me square in the chest, exploding in a cloud of dust and gravel.  I threw down my shield and ran back into the house, wondering why my Sunday school teacher had steered me so wrong.

A couple of weeks later, we were playing ball tag with a bunch of neighborhood kids. Instead of tagging by hand we threw a red rubber gym class dodgeball.  I decided to take evasive action, and take the game to a new level, by climbing the front yard maple tree.  Nobody had called it out of bounds.  And because I was so scrawny, I was able to climb up to the tiniest branches at the top.

Jeff took aim with the ball, but couldn’t hit me through the branches. And he was too big to climb up any closer to the small nest of branches I was swaying in at the top.  My small size was no longer a liability. 

It dawned on me that being in the right environment could turn my weakness into a strength.  I got clobbered in the alley.  I was victorious in the tree.

Are there situations in your life where you are standing your ground and hurling clod after clod, but still getting clobbered?  Take job searching for example.  Maybe you are early in your career, or maybe in the later stages of a career  looking for your next big challenge.  We all have experience and skills that transfer into other industries, yet we tend to keep returning to the same alley… and getting dirt clods to the chest. 

It’s ironic that your greatest strength may be in knowing your weaknesses.  Take an honest look at where you are battling for your next opportunity.  Maybe it’s time to change the battlefield.  Maybe it’s time to go climb a tree.

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8 Comments on “Your greatest strength”

  1. Roland Says:

    Yep – climbed my tree, too. What was an old DJ going to do? Go back to selling shoes?

    You remember the computers we used at REGI? They were old MacIntosh Classics, with like a ten inch built in screen and a 40 meg’ hard drive, powered by 8 megs of RAM – remember those?

    DJ’s usually have a lot of flexible daytime hours, and I decided to build myself a website. That was the start of a new career. Now I am a member of Irvine Spectrum LeTip group, and hold their Internet Web Design chair. :o) My computers have 19 inch monitors begging to be replaced by 22 inchers, and my hundreds of gigs of HD and multiple gigs of RAM move towards greater heights also. Maybe I’ll need to find a taller tree!

    I still DJ on the side, doing upscale weddings and corporate events, and the occasional friend’s backyard party. But web design is taking off, and the DJ / musician from the SJ Valley is now a techie building websites and applications.

    Environment is everything, Dave. Also, it’s a lot like the recession – we can choose to particpate, or perhaps not!

    Roland.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Roland, you have come a long way because you’re willing to jump in and make it happen, not wait for it to happen. You’ve also become quite a writer 🙂

  2. John Yonan Says:

    Great story, David. I keep climbing new trees, they are just different species…some trees have a solid trunk, others are weak. The trees I have been climbing seem to not grow fast enough for me…so I move on to another with a different challenge.

    No one but you would understand what I am talking about…I truly enjoy reading your blog!

  3. Paul Says:

    I always find trees without solid branches…it makes it hard to climb…maybe I need to find better trees?

  4. Chris Anthony- Lansdowne Says:

    Great example David… love your thinking & writing! (Hi Roland from an old fellow DJ from “Rubens”)

    Chris

  5. Ramona Says:

    I bet if you threw a dirt clod at Jeff today you could do some damage…he’s gettin’ a little long in the tooth, you know!

    Perhaps timing is everything too. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about “picking your battles”.


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