Are You Aware of Your Strengths and Utilizing Them Daily?
Generally speaking, as a society we are much more likely to over-focus on our weaknesses, criticize ourselves for not being good enough and exhaust our personal resources to get them to a strength level (spinning our wheels); causing struggle, self-doubt and even depression. Rather, if we would focus on our innate and unique talents that set us apart and create purpose in our lives, we would be more productive, efficient, confident and assured. We’d no longer struggle to be who we feel like we should and would learn (from an early age) to embrace our strengths to find success, happiness and belonging.
Pictured: DEFINE Founder, Henry Richardson at Define Your Balance – Texas Yoga Conference, Photo by: Christi Minter
When we use our strengths we build confidence, self-esteem and feel empowered. We feel energized, effective and worthy. No longer do we live our lives focusing on our downfalls, instead our individual purpose and meaning shines through creating clarity about who we are and what we are meant for. The challenge is that those things we are uniquely gifted with are sometimes buried under what we wish we were good at or what we understand others want us to be good at. We’re told at a young age that we should be good at math or pursue degrees and professions that are stable, consistent and provide financial security. We’re steered in the direction of perceived success and independence and our focus becomes what can we achieve or who can we beat to the top, rather than how our strengths can benefit others and ourselves. If our strengths do not fit into the mold of early education its easy to get the message that they aren’t as important or that they should only be pursued as a hobby. Instead of identifying each persons unique abilities and helping them grow in them, we are shoved into categories or boxes that stifle our individuality. For this reason, it is paramount that we find ways to develop our strengths and encourage others to do the same.
The Downside of Neglected Strengths
What happens when we deny our talents and focus on those things that we want, feel or believe we should be good at? We spend all of our energy trying to take a weakness up to strength level, wasting precious time on tasks or abilities that won’t ever naturally be what our strengths are. We lose confidence and create narratives about ourselves with the theme of “less than” or “not good enough.” These themes then become self-fullfilling prophecies that when held for too long inevitably lead to stress, frustration and lack of motivation (who’s been here before?).
The truth is weaknesses are easier to focus on. There is less at stake, we can make excuses or subconsciously sabotage success if we just aren’t good enough or can distract ourselves with negative beliefs and criticism. Strengthening our strengths can be much more vulnerable, they can draw unwanted attention, give us self-esteem and purpose or allow more room for disappointment if something doesn’t work out. You see, we can find so many reasons, from others or within ourselves, that go against our fundamental desire to be needed, important and an integral part of a whole (something developing our strengths will naturally provide).
A Strengths Based Approach Never Fails
Think about it. Your strengths and personal capabilities that come natural to you are at their lowest point higher than any weakness will ever be. With time, focus and determination enhancing a strength is a much faster and efficient way to success than working on any weakness will ever be. This is exactly what the researchers at Gallup and authors of Strengths Finder 2.0 recognized. In an attempt to reverse our focus on weaknesses, Gallup conducted thousands of research studies over 50 years to come up with an assessment that helps individuals (you and me) identify what we are innately good at and find practical ways to live them out.
Much like a personality test, the questionnaire associated with the book assesses you on 34 different strengths categories and only tells you your top 5. Recognizing our nature to focus on weaknesses, the researchers knew that if they gave away the whole list, participants would only take away what their lowest scores were (Yep, I’d definitely do that). This brilliant approach changed my thinking and gave me new direction at a time in my life that felt like a constant uphill battle. Understanding my strengths (input, empathy, developer, ideation & belief) according to StrengthsFinder 2.0 affirmed my desire to work with people, pursue knowledge and embrace my wild ideas. I still found ways to distract myself and focus on a weakness (and still do to this day) however, this has become so much easier to recognize and redirect. I’ve since found purpose and have utilized my detailed action plan to stay on track and find more ways to enhance my strengths, propelling me on a path of success and a life fully integrated with my unique needs, desires and goals.
Using Strengths In the Context of Community
Once we identify our gifts and unique abilities that we have, we are able to seek out ways to not only strengthen our own lives but the lives of others. Think about your favorite product, book, movie or song. How many people must it have taken to complete the final product? How many careers, goals or plans involve only one person? Very few, if any. We are at our best when we know who we are and are able to be apart of a larger group or organization with similar views, beliefs, goals and direction. Finding out what you are good at and looking for ways to contribute to the greater good enhances our society and improves well-being across the board. We all need each other and when we recognize this and help others foster their strengths so that we are not all exhausting our individual resources, trying to do it all or feeling alone, we are able to conquer so much more. Our individual success rates are enhanced by the strengths of others and vice versa.
As a matter of fact in a study conducted by Gallup where they studied more than one million work groups, interviewed over 20,000 leaders and conducted over 10,000 in-depth interviews found that the most effective leaders focus on strengths, surround themselves with the right people and understand their followers needs.
Strengths In Motion
Being apart of a thriving community life at DEFINE has shown me just how important living out our strengths and affirming them within others can be. The strength of DEFINE is found within the strengths of each individual. The beauty of DEFINE is not just that we have extremely talented team members, it is that each person is encouraged to be their self, to use their strengths to enhance the group and are accepted in their uniqueness. Such a powerful dynamic that I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience on a daily basis.
– If you haven’t already, look up Strengths Finders 2.0 and fill out the assessment (it seems long at first but should only take 20 minutes at max)
– Let us know what your top 5 strengths are
– Share below in the comment section or on our Facebook page
– Look for ways to maximize your strengths daily
– Share this post with others or share Strengths Finders 2.0 with your family, friends and co-workers to get the most out of your relationships and goals
DEFINE’s Emotional Wellness Expert, Jessica Pass, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Instructor at DEFINE body & mind. She has a private practice in Houston, Texas, specializing with children, adolescents, individuals, couples and parents. Jessica’s approach incorporates mind-body integration, education and practical strategies to improve emotional wellness, emphasizing all aspects of who we are to live fully and thrive in our relationships.