September 2, 2015
As our experience and understanding of the strengths broadens, we grow to accept others completely and learn to not take things so personally.
Imagine a classic natural landscape. Bright green hills lush with prairie grasses. Clusters of bushes and little groves of trees marking the terrain. Maybe a large fieldstone or two. Notice that from a distance the land all looks like one thing, but up close we can see so many different types of plants. Here are five different leafy green ones, while over there we have viney purplish ones above soft groundcover. Some grow up, others grow out. Some lose their leaves, others don’t. Some are edible, some not. Each of them requiring different amounts of light, shade, water, space, soil density, and nutrients to exist.
It’s easy, isn’t it, to view this scene without judgments?
We don’t say that one plant is “good” and another one “bad” because of the elements they require to thrive. No. All plants live and grow in the ways that they are designed to do so and, at the end of the day, it’s easy to accept that. It’s difficult to imagine someone being disappointed with a plant for needing the water and sunlight that it requires to live. In fact, we’ve probably never taken anything that a plant has done personally. They do what they need to do in order to flourish. And that’s that.
It’s so easy to look upon the plant kingdom with this type of objectivity—without judgment, criticism, and disapproval. So, why can it be so difficult to achieve this perspective with our fellow humans? Imagine standing at a crowded Manhattan intersection with that same indifference.
While the strengths don’t provide us with a supreme level of detachment, they do provide us with a language, which allows us to make better sense of others. That is, through our knowledge of the strengths we grow in ways that make it easy to accept and understand one another. And, importantly, we learn not to take things quite so personally.
Where before we may have thought someone was controlling, today we have insight enough to recognize when their strength of command is lighting up. Where once we may have viewed our friend as too sensitive, today we can see their strengths of empathy and harmony being expressed.
As our awareness and understanding of the strengths deepens, we develop abilities to embrace others for who they are. Truly. We know, in new ways, that others aren’t trying to annoy us, instead, they’re likely being themselves. Plain and simple.
Or, if they are, indeed, trying to bug us, it’s likely that they are, in some way, living outside of their strengths zone and acting out. The strengths give us the opportunity to meet people where they are and to hold space for them as the true expression of their spirit reveals itself.
Whether we are aware of it or not, what our strengths are to our wellbeing, light, shade, water, space, and nutrients are to plants.
The word nature can mean a few things. One meaning is that which is earth-made. The other speaks to our inherent qualities.
Our strengths are our nature.
Who and what feeds our strengths? Who challenges us most and how might we use our knowledge of the strengths to see them in a new light? Are we in need of more sunlight, more water, better soil to grow our roots in?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.