Monthly Archives: August 2015

Do you play to strengths or weaknesses?

IMG_5689Written by Ruth Howard – founder of The Joy Story.

Are there fundamental, life changing differences between playing to your strengths or to your weaknesses? Should you just do what you love or focus on your flaws to correct them? When do you choose one way over the other?

Perhaps this story may shed some light on the matter.

One evening on parent teacher night a father was chatting with the Maths teacher about his boy and after a while  he said to the teacher: – “So, do you think I should get him some coaching?”
The teacher replied:- “What is he good at?’
The father said, “No, I said, do you think I should get him some coaching?”
And again the teacher said:- “What is he good at?”
The father then said, “No, no, I meant do you think I should get him some Maths coaching?
The teacher asked again:- “I know, I heard you, but what I am asking is what is he good at?
And this time the father replied:- “He is good at basketball. He loves it”.
“Then have him coached in that.”
“Why? He is already good at that. He is no good at Maths”.
And the teacher said;- “How do you think he will feel if you focus on something he is not good at, and is unlikely to be? Focus on something he is good at, develop that, encourage that”.
The father went away, thoughtful. He had his son coached in basketball.
Six months later the father rang the Maths teacher and thanked her for her wisdom. His son was Captain of the basketball team and his grades had improved in every subject, not just Maths. He was a happy boy.

When you make a choice to play to your strengths, you tap  into what you are naturally good at. It uplifts you. You do it because you want to – you love it! Your rewards include joy, happiness, enrichment and expansion. That’s life changing in a good way.

When you make a choice to focus on your weaknesses in order to correct them, you do it because you have to, you need to get out of a pickle! Your rewards may be a sense of achievement, accomplishment and improvement. Yet does it ever taste as sweet as the rewards from excelling at something that is really joyous for you?

The parent-teacher story is a true story told to me by the Maths teacher. I would love to hear from you if you have any stories like this. Have you been inspired or encouraged to take one particular course of action over another? What was the outcome? Did you play to your strengths or to your weaknesses?

Credit: ‘Sunrise over Sydney Harbour Bridge 22/7/15’ Copyright Ruth Howard

I was witness to love

ScanWritten by Ruth Howard – founder of The Joy Story

A few years ago years ago my friend Susanne was three hundred miles away in another city when one of her two daughters had an accident at home and was rushed to hospital. Being so far away Susanne rang me and asked me to go to the hospital to be with her daughter, and her other daughter who was on her way to the hospital to be at her sister’s bedside.

I arrived at the hospital the same time as the other daughter. When we were allowed into the ward I was to witness one of the most beautiful moments of my life. The first words the two sisters said to each other were:- “I love you”.

In the moment of ‘No! – I might lose this person I love!’, our hearts automatically open. We don’t go to our minds. We go straight to our hearts.  We go to love. We connect to the most fundamental thing in existence, that which connects everything to everything, which is everywhere, and that is the love which is in the heart, in every heart.

And we probably say, “I love you”.





An Event That Changed The World

Written by Ruth Howard – founder of The Joy Story

Iimages wrote this speech almost thirty years ago, about an event that changed the world . I was a fledgling member of a Sydney Rostrum public speaking group and this was my maiden speech.

I found it this morning as I was looking through some papers. I share it here, unedited, with a little comment by me at the end. It is timely.

An Event That Changed The World

Come with me on a journey back in time and space. Everyone of you here in this room today will be a traveller in my time machine, which will be fuelled with your imagination.

The assignment I have been given is to show you an event that changed the world – that set the course of history off in a new direction.

Are you ready? Are you prepared? Because I warn you, you may not like what you see. Are you afraid of what you will see because what you will see will be in your mind and there’s no turning back? I have already set our time clock to transport us to each event where we will be silent, invisible observers, unable to change what we see in any way. We won’t even know the time or place, but it will be left to us to discover why we are where we are.

OK? Fasten your seat belts. Our journey has begun!

As the cosmic clouds of our consciousness propell us further and further into the abyss of our past, we find we have arrived at our first destination. We are in a damp, dark dwelling. Our ears are punctured by a woman’s screams obviously in great pain and as our vision clears we see in the corner the miracle birth which is indeed a most significant event and we fully understand why time has stopped for us here, for this is Bethlehem.

As we leave this stable behind, we find ourselves in a laboratory. Who’s that strange man over there and what are all these wires and chemicals for? Lookout! He’s spilt acid on his trousers and he’s calling out in panic into a strange contraption nearby. “Mr Watson, come here, I want you”. To our surprise we hear someone bounding up the stairs from the basement, three floors below. How did he know – how did he hear the call for help? This must be the laboratory of Alexander Graham Bell.

Our time is short, so quickly, let’s depart.

Are your seat belts still fastened, because we have just splashed down in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean? The sea is calm. We can’t quite make out the name of the large ship that has just sailed past us. On board, the passengers have just finished lunch and are strolling around the decks. Suddenly the water is broken by another object streaking toward the ship. Oh my God – it’s been hit! We watch in utter helplessness as over 1,000 men, women and children perish in the icy waters of the Atlantic. And we catch a glimpse of the name on the bow as the ship slides to her watery grave. It is the ‘Lusitiania’.

We have nearly completed our journey with just one last place to visit. Where are we now? We are in a beautiful park in a very picturesque city. It’s a lovely summer’s day and the children are playing happily like children do the world over. The mothers and grandmothers are chatting whilst keeping one eye on the children. They look different to us – maybe we are in Asia or somewhere in China perhaps. Where are we? Why would I have brought you here? What could have possibly happened here in this beautiful, serene community that was an important enough event to change the world?

I have brought you here for a particular purpose – for the the event that will happen here tomorrow, 6th August, 1945 will be recorded in this planet’s history as its most cataclysmic event – for the place we about about to leave is Hiroshima, Japan.

I want you now to come back, back to today and reflect on your journey. The birth of Jesus, the invention of the telephone, the sinking of the Lusitania, the death at Hiroshima are all events that changed the world.

It doesn’t hurt to take a pilgrimage back into the past to remind us that not one but many events have dramatically altered the course of mankind.

I think I’d rather do that than look into the future because I am afraid I may not like what I see.

It was here I ended my speech.

We all know what has happened since. Have we learned anything? Have we made it stop? Can we as little individuals do that – make it stop? Maybe not, but we can look inside for our own inner peace. I think that is a big help and a good a place as any to start.