Strengths. Talk surrounding the assessment and utilization of people’s strengths has become so common that the word “strengths” is in danger of becoming a buzzword without significance. That is unfortunate.
We all have innate strengths, just as we all have physical muscles. Yet just as it is obvious that not all people work their muscles to the same degree as others, it is also pretty obvious to pinpoint those who work their innate strengths more (or less) than others. Just think about the people you see regularly at your local coffee shop, office, or grocery store. We don’t tend to notice those without the muscle mass too much. They just kind of blend in to the crowd. We don’t usually walk down the aisles of the grocery store thinking, “They have muscles. They don’t.” But when someone in a tight tank top with bulging muscles turns down the aisle and starts walking toward us…we usually notice. Male or female. I mean, they stand out from the crowd. They look different. And when people stand out from the crowd and look different, we notice. Right?
The visual I just gave was for analogy only. Truth is, when people stand out from the crowd in whatever capacity, we generally notice. And when we ourselves stand out from the crowd and what seems hard to others is energizing to us…we really notice! That is why strengths are significant. For ourselves, as well as for others.
So what do physical muscles have to do with innate strengths? The correlation between strengths and muscles is that while we all have both of them, how well they serve us is dependent on how much and how well we use them. Contrary to the belief that understanding and utilizing strengths is just fluff, I believe the understanding and utilizing of strengths is what makes us shine. What makes us stand out. What energizes us. What allows us to be all we are meant to be.
Having said that, I want to emphasize that knowing, and even understanding our strengths is not enough. Agreeing with the results on a strengths assessment does not equate to “knowing” our strengths. I can’t even count how how many people I have talked to who say, “Yeah, yeah. I took the strengths assessment. I know my strengths. It didn’t really help me.” Yet when I ask what their strengths are, they fumble to find a file or some notes that will remind them. Because they don’t really “know” them. Unless we know our strengths so well that we are intentionally activating them daily, we will fail to see the benefits. That is why some people don’t buy into the importance of knowing their strengths. They haven’t taken the time to see the benefit. Or perhaps they haven’t even known how to begin.
If your interest is piqued and you would like to know how to discover, understand and utilize your own unique set of strengths, I encourage you to pursue that journey. Start with taking the Gallup Strengthsfinder assessment. But don’t stop there. Either on your own or through a good Life Coach that understands strengths, pursue some strategies that will activate your unique strengths and help you truly utilize them to benefit both you and others. You…and those around you…will be so glad you did!
Brenda Harkins is a Strengths-based Transformation Coach who mines the gold in people, equipping individuals and organizations to drive their own unique success. As a CoreClarity Certified Coach and Facilitator, as well as a Certified John Maxwell Life and Leadership Coach, Brenda facilitates the discovery of purpose, the unleashing of potential, and the achievement of unique success. Brenda is Executive Director of The Harkins Group, Inc.