The penguin story or the relativity of strengths and weaknesses

A long while back, I was reading a book about happiness. I recall that the author, a German doctor, finishing the last chapter with the penguin story. It goes somewhat like this: “They laughed at the Penguin and felt sorry for it because it couldn’t walk very fast, it had those tiny arms and legs…. soon they realized that the penguin had a much greater strength than walking… They watched the Penguin swim away as fast as no other animal was able to swim… ”


To me that story has always been very inspiring. Often times we get frustrated over our weaknesses and forget our strengths.

I had the same sort of feeling in the past year, living in Canada. I’ve always been good in learning languages. It has been my passion since I was very young. I recall being 14 and translating English songs into German – Google didn’t exist at that point, in fact I didn’t even own a computer; I was fluent in English by the time I was 16. For years it was always a benefit and always a strength…Moving to another country, my biggest strength suddenly turned into a weakness. I felt like the penguin on land. Suddenly everyone around me was better in “my strength”. I criticized myself, pushing myself towards improving in something that I’m already exceptionally good at….

Thankfully, I’ve had many supportive people along the way, encouraging me to believe in myself and giving me time to improve myself. Soon I realized, I will always be the penguin in the water – Languages will always be my strengths.

One thing I’ve learned throughout the year is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. In order to improve ourselves, we need to understand and embrace both.




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