September 11, 2015
By developing an understanding of how our strengths work together, we learn flexibility and how to weather life’s storms.
Let’s imagine a typical day for a palm tree. Ocean view. Blue skies. Constant sunlight. Cool nights. Good people watching. The peaceful sound of waves. Gentle breezes. Spaciousness. Sounds pretty nice, right?
And, while that might be the norm for a palm tree, it’s not all that there is. Imagine now those scattered times in its life when a hurricane hits. One hundred mile an hour winds. Violent waves. Flooding. Chaos.
And when it’s all over…
The tree is still there. Maybe it’s a little roughed up, but it’s still standing. And for the next 100, 500, 1000 days—calm winds and mild weather—the tree can enjoy again its peace.
Because of a specific built-in quality, it can endure both ends of a broad spectrum. Which is important because: What good is tranquility if something is destroyed the moment that calm is broken?
The ability to bend without breaking really is at the core of anything that is able to both survive and thrive. Flexibility.
Sure, another type of tree, say, an oak, might be able to survive a coastal hurricane—but, when it was all over, would it truly be able to snap back the next day and go on thriving?
Probably not, but palms can. To be fair, oaks are flexible in other ways, which are, of course, ways that the palm tree is not—which is why they each “surthrive” in their own elements. And we are not so different from trees. We each experience our best selves in various circumstances and environments—both inner and outer.
And like the palm, flexibility allows us to experience the full spectrum of our lives without having to start over from scratch each time the weather turns.
This doesn’t mean that we all should or need to bend in the same ways. Never. Instead, it means that we are all suited to thrive in different atmospheres. Imagine planting an oak on the beach or a palm in the northwoods. The palm is “bad” because it doesn’t thrive in the snow. No. It simply isn’t designed to prosper in that landscape.
When we are thinking about our strengths and making conscious efforts to examine them and grow an awareness of them, we open our lives to greater flexibility.
Because our strengths are meant to be used together, like gears in a watch. After all, what good is a sprocket if it has nothing else to turn?
In that way, flexibility is created when we are able to see how our strengths are working together within us. It is unlikely that a single strength will alone be a suitable lens to view our challenges through. There is little flexibility in that.
However, by considering the wisdom of our top five strengths—and focusing on them—a depth of diversity emerges. From there we are able to see, determine, and move about in a spectrum of our qualities and inner-resources.
So, what type of tree are we? Does it depend on the day? Are we palm trees on a beach or palms trees on a glacier? Are we in need of a transplant? What would that look like? What action can we take today to move toward that space?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.