Finding Your Strengths by Peggy Eddleman
When my daughter was six, she struggled with reading. Her teachers and the faculty rushed to get her help– she went to reading recovery, had special sessions with her teacher, and was invited to outside of school hours tutoring. I was extremely grateful for all the extra help she got, because reading matters. Out of every skill you need to succeed in school, it’s probably the one that matters the most.
At the same time, I marveled at the concept of it all. At six years old, my daughter was truly remarkable in a lot of different ways, and had incredible strengths. But none of those strengths seemed to matter when she had troubles doing the one thing that mattered most.
It fascinated me so much that I had to create a character who was bad at the thing that mattered most. Sky Jumpers takes place in the town of White Rock, forty years after the green bombs of WWIII wiped out most of the population and virtually all technology. They’ve had enough time to build things, so they’re past the point of fighting to survive, and have moved on to looking toward the future in an effort to regain some of what was lost. Inventing is extremely important to that plan. And my main character, Hope, can’t do it.
It doesn’t stop her from trying, though! She knows how important it is, so she tries very hard every year to come up with a great invention.
Struggling with reading didn’t stop my daughter from trying, either. She knew how important it was, and worked very hard to improve. She’s in sixth grade now, and tests above her grade level in reading.
That’s the thing about those really important things: they’re actually really important. They deserve our best efforts spent on them, no matter how hard or frustrating it is.
But the fortunate thing is that for every weakness, there’s also a hidden strength. For every thing that someone is bad at, there’s at least one thing that they’re good at. For my daughter, it’s sports, debate, and math. For Hope, it’s leading others, taking risks, and being loyal. Those are some pretty great strengths! But sometimes, when you’re bad at the thing that matters most, your strengths can get overlooked– by others and by you. And for every bit as vital as it is to work hard at turning those important things that you’re bad at into something you’re good at, it’s just as vital to turn the things you’re good at into something you’re great at.
Those universally important things are indeed very helpful. But those individual, unique strengths that sometimes get lost are what truly allow us to thrive and to help others. Their great importance lies in the fact that they aren’t universal. There are amazing things you can do that no one else can do as well as you. I hope that every child who has troubles doing those things that seem to matter the most realizes that they also have hidden strengths that are every bit as important.
Because not only do our strengths make us unique, but they’re what give us the power to change the world.
Peggy Eddleman lives at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Utah with her husband and their three kids. She enjoys painting, playing games with her family (especially laser tag), and of course, reading. She is the author of Sky Jumpers. You can visit Peggy online at peggyeddleman.com