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Know (and Love!) Your Strengths


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Hello ESM family! I hope that the school year is off to a positive and productive start! Today, I write to you on a topic that I feel is very important to our students.

So often, I hear students say things like:

“I am just not a math person”

“I just don’t do science”

“Essays just aren’t my strength”

“Boys are just more spatial than girls”

The list goes on and on. What do we notice about this list? The answer to this question is the word just, and it is a word that we must strive to outgrow. Just limits us to the confines of our beliefs about ourselves, the comparisons we make to others, and the projections that we hear from others. But none of us are just any one thing. We are woven, by our genetics and experiences, into a collection of interests, talents, strengths, struggles, insights, comforts, skills, passions, tendencies, curiosities… the list goes on and on.

Some of us are natural-born linguists; some can see the imaginary in three dimensions. Some create the music, and others dance the dance. Some connect with nature, and others connect the dots. Some students glom onto perceived strengths; others ruminate on all of the things that they just can’t do, longing to be just a little bit better at this, that, or the other. But the truth is, THE WORLD TRULY NEEDS ALL TYPES, and every combination of intelligences is unique and important!

The diagram above shows a handful of intelligence types. Each bubble is a different color, but every bubble is equal in size. Our world depends on the balance of every one of these bubbles, and every overlap possible. The problems we face today require flexible thinkers, strong communicators, team players, analysts, and creatives all working together on a common goal. Harnessing multiple intelligences can lead to personal success, but more importantly, can help change the world. Check out the list below which features modern-day, multi-intelligent people who do just that!

Madison Stewart→ Verbal-Linguistic, Naturalist, Interpersonal

Chris Malloy→ Kinesthetic, Verbal-Linguistic

Maggie Rogers→ Musical, Verbal-Linguistic

Pixie Turner → Verbal-Linguistic, Interpersonal

Domee Shi→ Verbal-Linguistic, Visual-Spatial

Boyan Slat→ Logic-Math, Naturalist

Noel Fitzpatrick→ Logic-Math, Kinesthetic

Alex Honnold→ Kinesthetic, Naturalist

Kishi Bashi→ Musical, Logic-Math

Mona Chalabi→ Visual-Spatial, Logic-Math

Lindsey Stirling→ Kinesthetic, Musical

Charles Post→ Naturalist, Interpersonal

Rachel Pohl→ Visual-Spatial, Naturalist

Rachel Brathen→ Interpersonal, Kinesthetic

Florence Welch→ Intrapersonal, Musical

Jay Shetty→ Intrapersonal, Interpersonal

Megan Grassell→ Interpersonal, Visual-Spatial

Michael Landy→ Intrapersonal, Visual-Spatial

Each of these individuals has a unique set of interests, talents, strengths, struggles, insights, comforts, skills, passions, tendencies, curiosities, and each of them has found success and happiness in life. The common thread is that none of them did JUST anything. None of them are just statisticians, or just artists, or just dancers, or just medical specialists, or just business executives, or just ecologists. All of them are multi-intelligent, multi-passionate human beings, and that is what we can all strive to be. Never settle for just anything! This year, I challenge each and every one of us (students, parents, and mentors alike) to not only apply our natural intelligences more intentionally, but also embrace the areas that we struggle, learn from those who can teach us, and teach those who can learn from us.

I leave you with the quote: “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” -Albert Einstein