Strengths and Relativity

August 20, 2015

We want to make the most of our time on earth.  The strengths help us see what is essential. 

Every day has a beginning and an end. Though, we can all agree that there are some days that feel like they will never end, and others that we wish could go on forever.  That’s relativity.  We probably experience this phenomenon daily.

So, how does relativity factor into achieving our highest human potential and living as the best versions of ourselves?

When we are operating from our core places of value and meaning, we are in full strengths-mode.  Different as we may be, we all know what it is like to be in the zone.  For some of us, it might be hammering out line after line of code.  For others, it’s music.  Or, running.  Or, cranking on a wrench.  Whatever it is, being in the zone can make a day seem like an hour and an hour seem like a second.

Living outside of our strengths, as we all know, can turn that second into an hour and that hour into a week.  Imagine an achiever stuck in an elevator during a power outage or someone with positivity working in a telemarketing center…

Fact is, living life outside of our strengths actually alters our perception of time.  Time being a main anchor of reality, we can safely say that living outside of our strengths actually alters our reality.

And, while optimism may be a virtue, it isn’t one of the strengths, and it’s unlikely that this dilemma can be bettered by ‘looking on the bright side’ or ‘making the best of it’.  Living outside of our strengths quite literally forces us into an unnatural state.

To be clear, there is a difference between being outside of our strengths and being outside of our comfort zone.  In the latter, we are generally being challenged to grow or evolve, which can be viewed as an act of greatness.  Living outside of our strengths, however, is when we are asked to go against our true nature, our inner-wiring, often forced to make ourselves smaller for reasons that we don’t agree with.

This can be something as straight forward as an includer being forced to see others excluded.  Or, it can be something broad and reaching, like someone with high empathy working in an emotionally toxic environment day after day.

Fortunately, by simply reaching toward a strengths-based mentality and worldview, we make progress.  We become more aware of our relationship to time and how our inner-world is affected by the outer-world.  Because this awareness incorporates a growing sensitivity to that “in the zone” feeling, we develop an impulse—a strengths impulse—which provides us with a specific goal.

That is, the more we ask ourselves, “Am I in the zone?” the more conscious we become of it when we are and when we are not.  This understanding is important because we cannot change something that we don’t know is there.

The more aware we are, the more choices we have.

Theoretical physicist Brian Greene reflects, “Relativity challenges your basic intuitions that you’ve built up from everyday experience.  It says your experience of time is not what you think it is, that time is malleable.”

Isn’t this also what we learn about ourselves by examining our strengths?  Don’t the strengths change the way that we experience all things?  Furthermore, watch what happens to the quote when we replace the word relativity with strengths and time with ourselves.

That is:  The strengths challenge our basic intuitions that we’ve built up from everyday experience.  They say our experience with ourselves is not what we think it is, that we are malleable.

The strengths give us options.  They give us concrete points to reach for and to make progress toward.  They shift and shape our perceptions of the material world and of time itself.  Could it be that our strengths function like sci-fi goggles that allow us to experience other realities?

When were we in the zone most recently?  What was the path to getting there?  What conscious actions could we take to attain a higher degree of a strengths-based mindset?  Are they the same actions that would also develop a strengths impulse?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

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