Introduction to Strengths
One day a valued coach gave me a gift.
It was a book titled Strengths Finder 2.0.
The book is based on the idea that all too often in life we focus on overcoming our weaknesses, whereas we would be much more satisfied in our life, and our jobs, if we instead focused on our strengths. Specifically, if we are to recognise our natural talents, use them and build on them, then these talents can become definite strengths for us.
Discovering My Strengths
At the time I was in need of some inspiration in my life.
I was feeling stuck and my confidence was dropping.
Perhaps this book would be something that could help me, I thought.
I completed the online strengths assessment in order to receive a report of my ‘Top 5 Strengths’. I eagerly awaited the results, which only took a few minutes to compute, based on my responses to 177 statements about whether the statement was strongly like me, or strongly unlike me.
My top 5 strengths are:
Harmony, Intellection, Restorative, Empathy and Responsibility
I read the report which outlined each strength, descriptions from others who have the strength and what it looks like in their daily life, ideas for action – to flex the muscle of my talents, and finally suggestions on how to work with others who have the same strength.
My initial reaction was disappointment.
I felt that my strengths weren’t particularly strong or powerful talents to have. They seemed to be about being in my own head, thinking and over thinking.
My strengths didn’t strike me as someone who wants to get out there and enjoy life or make a noticeable difference.
I felt a bit down about this result. I had been looking forward to understanding more about myself and how I could channel my talents in a meaningful way.
Would I readily see a new or altered career path? Would I have clear set of actions that could propel me to greater success in my work life, turning that into fulfilment in my personal life?
These were some of the expectations I had about what the information would provide me. The results did not immediately give me these answers that I had hoped for.
Seeing My Strengths from Another Perspective
However, after a short while later, a funny thing happened.
As I continued to ponder on the results, I came to a realisation that my strengths are gentle, helpful, useful and valuable strengths.
Part of what helped me realise and know this for myself was during a catch up with someone I was mentoring.
At the time, we had only met a few times to discuss her ambitions and how I may be able to help her realise her goals.
It was in the getting to know you stage of mentoring, and I was building my knowledge and understanding of her with each meeting.
At this point I hadn’t yet got the satisfaction out of the Strengths Finder 2.0 book for myself, but I knew its power was there, waiting for me to uncover it.
I gave a copy of the book to my mentee as I felt this would be important for her goals that we were working through.
She was grateful for the book and flipped through the pages then said ‘I bet you are empathy’. She explained, ‘I bet one of your strengths is empathy’.
I was surprised, empathy is one of my strengths. It was interesting that someone who did not know me all that well – after all we had only met a couple of times – could see this in me. That I am someone who understands how others feel and places value on understanding those feelings in others.
This simple act – of one of my strengths being recognised by another – gave me the sense that my talents are credible and worthy of being developed into true strengths.
Using the Knowledge of Strengths
The impact of this conversation, combined with the effect of time to reflect on the results enabled me work through the information and become familiar with the outcome. Familiar to the point that I could see how my satisfaction, or dissatisfaction, with past roles or events was, in part, due to where my natural talents lie.
For example, I have not enjoyed times where I have had confrontations about sensitive and difficult subject matters. However, I have enjoyed the times when I can turn those situations around, problem solving to achieve a positive result. I find that part rewarding and it is reflective of my restorative strength.
I am still growing and forming into the person I want to be. Having a greater understanding of who I am enables me to make better choices as I go forward in my life and my career. Being mindful of what lies inside allows me to choose how I express my talents to the world.
And that is a pretty powerful position to be in.
Strengths and Confidence
Since learning about my strengths, I have made changes in my life and my career.
The biggest change is that I feel increased confidence about who I am as a person, and my contribution to the world.
Knowing my strengths has encouraged me to consider ways that I can put these strengths to use more often. Then confidently commit to that path.
This blog is one of the ways I am doing this.
I like bringing people together, whether in person or through an online community. I enjoy helping others, whether that is directly through mentoring or by sharing my stories and experiences for others to read and take what they can apply. Making improvements is another thing I enjoy. I know I have the drive and passion to share ideas and experiences in a way where we can all grow.
Building confidence so we can reach our potential is a worthy cause that I want to contribute to.
I want us to live our life confidently.
I encourage you to think about ways you can learn more about yourself.
This is something I discuss often with people I mentor.
The value comes from the ability to recognise past situations and our reactions to them, understanding and learning the lesson so we can apply it in our future.
The value also comes when we have new opportunities present themselves to us. We can make decisions confidently and clearly based on what we know to be true about ourselves and what will serve us best.
What do you think greater knowledge of your strengths could do for you?