The failings of friends, colleagues and partners can be deeply aggravating.
We look upon their faults and wonder again and again why they are the way they are. Why so slow? Why so unreliable? How can they be so bad at explaining things or telling an anecdote! Why can’t they face bad news straight on?
It’s at moments of particular agitation that we need to remember The Weakness of Strength Theory – this dictates that we should always strive to see people’s weaknesses as the inevitable downside of certain merits that drew us to them, and from which we will benefit at other points (even if none of these benefits are apparent right now).
We’re picking up on weaknesses that derive from strengths. Every strength that an individual has necessarily brings with it a weakness of which it is an inherent part.
It is impossible to have strengths without weaknesses.
Every virtue has an associated weakness.
Not all the virtues can belong together in a single person.
This is a theory that can help calm us down at moments of particular crisis, because it changes the way we see the defects, failings and weakness of others.
The theory usefully undermines the properly unhelpful idea that – if only we looked a bit harder – we would find someone who was always perfect to be around.
We may well find people with different strengths, but they will also have a new litany of weaknesses. It’s always calming to take a moment to remind ourselves that perfect people simply don’t exist.