Monday, August 14, 2023

Your Flaw Is Your Strength

While writing my next book, I came across a thought-provoking essay from a well-known Jewish Rabbi, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.  His topic was the opal stone that we see in jewelry.

The opal gem consists of small silica spheres and gaps between the spheres, which in one context could be considered flaws.  However, the very gaps that occur on the opal's surface are what create the opal's beauty when light is shined.  The light rays are diffracted by the spheres and gaps, which break the light into a fiery array of component colors.  The Rabbi's point is that we are like opals:  what are our flaws when viewed one way become our greatest sources of beauty in a different light.  

Our flaws, in the right light, are our strengths.

For example, in one light, our ambition and achievement orientation are flaws, leading us to become so wrapped up in our work that we neglect our health and relationships.  Those flaws lead us to trade from the egooverreact to gains and losses, and chop ourselves up when big moves aren't realized.

In a different light, our ambition and achievement orientation lead us to define and seek goals and ideals and realize our vision for being the best possible version of ourselves. 

There are so many ways in which our flaws and strengths mirror one another.  Think about how our sensitivity in relationships can lead to caring, but also hurt and disagreements.  Think about how our desire for self-development can result in personal growth--and in an insensitivity to others.  Think about how our commitment to not losing money can stand in the way of making significant money.

We are like opals, and our challenge is to find the light that enables us to shine.

Here's a simple exercise to help with that challenge:  Each week, identify the one most fulfilling, meaningful event that occurred to you during the past seven days.  Then identify the one most frustrating, negative event over that same period.  Then reflect on how the two are related and what made the positive experience so special and what made the negative experience so disappointing.  What is the light in which you are simply a stone with spheres and gaps, and what is the light in which you shine?  Over time, keeping this simple journal, you'll discover the contexts in which you display your fire.   

The goal is not to eliminate your flaws, but to turn those into sources of beauty.

Further Reading:

Greatness in Life and Trading