By: Lara Yeku

Mary was a young aspiring lady who was very curious and passionate about seeking creative ways to solve problems. When she was a little girl, she had always been nick-named “ITK”, an acronym for “I Too Know”, a coinage that describes someone who is highly curious and loves to give an opinion and get involved in the discussions going on around her environment.

Mary had always been mentally active. She always had a pen and paper ready to scribble down her thoughts as her mind generated hundred ideas.

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While Mary was growing up, attaining the status of the overall best student in academics was the hallmark of success shown to her and those that came first place in class were the super heroes, the super stars!!!To attain this super hero status, Mary would study for long hours. She would give up her food and time for leisure to keep reading. She would study all day and sometimes all night and there were many occasions when she slept in the library. Mary diligently attended all her lectures and made photocopies of all notes and past questions. All these she did, with the hope of topping her class. Unfortunately, she just didn’t. She wondered about her perceived inability to top her class and unconsciously began to compare herself with the best student in her class, a guy who habitually bounced into the class with unkempt outfit, sat at the back of the class, made all sorts of noises to distract the class and consistently acted in an unruly manner. And yet, in spite of all of these displays of unseriousness, he always topped the class at the end of the session. She wanted to know his secret. She wanted to know how someone seemingly "unserious", someone who never seemed to study, who never went to the library, but rather partied like a rock star could consistently lead the class during exams. As it turned out, they graduated, and he had a 1st class. And despite Mary’s best efforts, she left with a miserable 2:2. Mary was broken! She was upset with herself and she worried herself sick with thoughts of what her parents would say. To make matters worse, her parents were close to the guy's parents. So, Mary knew from experience that whenever both families met, they would talk about their children’s academic performance. Mary was so sure that her parents would be ashamed of her. How could she ever explain that she did her best? What excuse would suffice? Mary knew that her parents would never understand, all that they would see was that their daughter was in same class with this same first class guy, received the same lectures, paid the same school fees and yet failed to measure up to expectations with even a 2.1. Mary felt that she had let them down and the thought saddened her deeply.

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Life went on. Months later Mary got a job during her service year and again she found herself struggling to meet up with the administrative office tasks that were assigned to her. It wasn’t as if she was too dull to perform the tasks, she was just bored to distraction with the humdrum of administrative work. Mary deeply desired a job that offered her the flexibility to explore her creative ability and curious mind. She didn’t like routine and structured instructions, so she was ecstatic when her supervisor complained that due to her inability to follow through on his instructions, she would not be retained after NYSC. This time around, Mary did not grieve over her failure to measure up to societal & parental expectations. Instead, like a bird, she decided to spread her wings and fly away to a fashion school where she found the much desired outlet she needed to express her creative abilities on clothes.

To the surprise of everyone who knew Mary’s academic history, people loved her fashion styles. Before long, Mary made a name for herself in the world of fashion where her attires were nicked “Wowed Creatives”.

Over the years Mary continued to pour herself into pursuing her passion to style people who wanted to look different. She also made a lot of money from her fashion business.

Looking back, Mary realized that while in school she made herself unnecessarily miserable by comparing herself with the guy with the first class. He was an academic genius alright, but so was she! She was a creative genius! Mary finally understood that she was wrong to compare herself with someone who had high intellection strengths and low ideation strengths; because, conversely, she had high ideation strengths and low intellection strengths.

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Too many of us have a similar story to Mary’s. We fail to realize that we are all different with different strengths and abilities. Even identical twins differ in their strengths and capabilities just as their DNA differs.

Recently, I was speaking to a friend, who was comparing her 5 year old daughter to other children to gauge the intellection of her daughter. I mentioned to her that children were different in their strengths and abilities. Rather than compare her child, she would be better off discovering what her daughter did best and help to build/mold it.

As it happened for Mary, so it will happen for everyone who works from an area of strength. Discover your talents, invest to improve and hone it and solve a problem with it.

Find what your strengths and abilities are. Embrace them, appreciate them and find how you can use them to solve problems either for organizations or individuals. You will ultimately become a STAR!

Embrace your strengths, embrace your uniqueness!

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About the Author 

Lara is a seasoned Human Resources senior executive with local and global best practices spanning across various industries. She is a certified coach with expertise cutting across HR Transformation, Talent & Career Management, HR Strategy, HR Metrics & Data Analytics, Organizational Development, Training, Performance Management, Talent Acquisition & Retention, Workforce planning, HR Coaching, Succession Planning, etc. 

You can reach her on LinkedIn here.

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