I recently saw a young man who is a fantastic soccer player. He is very quick on the field with unbelievable foot skills. He was a midfielder who rarely lets the ball get by him. When I asked him if he thought he could “take me on” he look at me, smiled and said, “Without breaking a sweat”. In the past year, however, his grades in school had dropped significantly. I asked him, “So, why are you letting these classes kick the ball between your legs and beat you?” Letting someone kick the ball between your legs is beyond embarrassing to a young talented soccer player.

His bravado gone, he went to a long string of excuses about his parents pressuring him about his grades, his teachers not really caring and other students who considered the classes a joke. I asked him what would happen if he complained to his soccer coach about feeling pressured. He gave me a wry smile, laughed and responded, “That would not go over well!”. I then asked, “And if other players started playing like they didn’t really care?” He gave me his “I mean business look” and said, “That would not last very long!”

It takes a lot of time, dedication and effort to be as good as he is on the soccer field. I know this because I see the effort my niece makes every day to stay at the top of her game. (And she is also very good!!) This young man had earned excellent grades until rather recently so I knew that something else had to be going on. I told him that I knew who he was and that nothing he had told me made any sense at all. He agreed and finally said, “I have no idea why this is happening!”

See the Warning Sign

How often does this happen to you? You may be known for your life success and the way you care about others at work, at home and in your marriage. Then, slowly, over time some aspect of your life begins to go south. You tell yourself, “No problem”, because you’ve been through this before, so simply infuse more effort and it gets worse!

This is a warning sign. There is an elephant in the room that you are unaware of. The more effort you put in, the more drained you will eventually become. You will become sullen, angry, distant and judgmental. Eventually, you will reach the same point as this young man and begin selling yourself short by making excuses.

How to Use Strengths Wisely

The hidden problem will likely come from the last place you would think to look - a personal strength, such as empathy, intelligence or spirituality. When stressed you likely revert to the things that usually work for you. Unfortunately, using your strength in the same ways won’t work this time. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know how to use your strengths differently.

The greatest difficulty is that you will likely fall into is to deify our strengths. For example, “When the going gets tough, I get going and nothing can stop me!”.

Here are a few suggestions

  • There can be only one God in your life and if this is any of your physical or mental attributes or you will soon be in over your head!
  • When you work daily on improving your relationship with God and sharing this relationship with others you improve your assessment and wisdom around all of your skills more quickly.
  • You won’t live or die by any change in your life circumstances but you will be able to assess for necessary changes more quickly and effectively.
  • When you focus your moment to moment intent on living spiritually you are much less likely to be swayed into decisions that are somehow seductive but not a part of the way you want to treat yourself or others.
  • Your spiritual intent can also keep you from becoming blind to false narratives depending on “which side you are on”.
  • The ultimate practice is your practice in being you - as child of God. You won’t always win but, in the long term you will be a winner. Trusted, loved, compassionate and effective!

Learn more about the neurobiology of these truths in the Master of Oneness video series.

By the way, the young man is still a soccer star and earns great grades as well!