What’s and Why’s of Your Likings (February, 2024)

All of you are smart and successful. You possess unique set of capabilities and strengths that you feel played a key role in shaping who you are today. But do you remember when you became aware of your strengths. If you think deeply, chances are you will recall a moment when someone first recognized it and commented it casually. It may have been ages ago, you probably were quite young, the person who commented may not have given too deep of a consideration before pointing out your strength. But somewhere that comment made you aware of your strength. Unknowingly, that awareness became a positive force that started to pull you upward. Before long, this became an auspicious spiral.

Let me share a story. Sara, a reserved 13-year-old in middle school, often felt lost and unsure of where she belonged. Despite her attempts to appear confident, self-doubt plagued her, especially when she compared herself to others. To cope, she crafted intricate stories in her mind, only to conclude them sadly, which were really the reflection of her own feelings of inadequacy. At night, she poured her heart into a journal in which she would paint a bleak picture of her world.

Everything changed when she was comforting younger children by weaving tales that captivated them. Encouraged by a neighbor’s praise for her storytelling talent, Sara’s perspective shifted. Her stories took on brighter endings, and her journal entries became infused with optimism. Embracing her knack for storytelling, she shared her creations with her parents, who, to her surprise, not only applauded her talent but also encouraged her to share it further.

With newfound confidence, Sara’s stories gained traction, earning her recognition in her school’s newsletter. Her passion for writing carried her through college, where her stories continued to be published. Upon graduation, she secured a position at a prestigious publishing house where she climbed the ranks swiftly. Unbeknownst to her, a simple compliment from her neighbor set in motion a positive trajectory.

Although she might not recall it, the upward flight in her life began with a casual remark from her neighbor about one of her strengths, of which she was previously unaware. One key point we can take home from this story is the importance of recognizing one’s strengths early in life.

If a casual and by chance comment by others on one of our strengths can impact us so much, what could have happened if there was a framework that would systematically help us identify and make us aware of our strengths. That’s precisely what we will embark upon in the next few months. This month, kids will start on this journey with a retrospective exercise. Below are the points kids will think over and jot down the responses as a part of this month’s assignment:

  1. What you love doing during your free time and why?
  2. What subjects do you like and why?
  3. What extracurricular activities excite you and why?
  4. What do you want to become when you grow up and why?
  5. What kind of books, material you like reading and why?
  6. What values, issues and causes you care about and why?
  7. What makes you feel good and why?

A couple of points for parents and senior kids:

One, this month’s assignment is the first step of multi-step framework; so, please refrain from labeling any of the above points as strength or weakness. Having a genuine assessment at this stage is the key point.

Second, this month, the focus is on inventory – not the future state. So, please do not try to influence kids thinking.

I am very excited about this journey – hope all of you feel the same. Looking forward to this wonderful exploratory ride together.


Harsh Mendiratta