Strengths and Being Ourselves

September 30, 2015

The strengths help us get specific about who we are and how we can bring out our real selves with others.

Oscar Wilde said it best, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

So, why can that seem so daunting?

Perceptions.  Realities.  Expectations.  Fear.  Too many options.  Too few options.  Pressure.  Distraction.  Negative self-talk.  To name a few.

If we are human, we know what it is like to try to live up to the expectations of others.

Many among us were brought up believing that we would be accepted if only we acted a certain way, or if we followed a set of rules, listened to this or that music, earned a specific amount of money, or reacted to life in a prescribed way.

Reality is, if we feel that we cannot be ourselves, how is it that we reason that we can be someone else?

In some ways that seems infinitely harder, no?  In other ways it feels like a safer bet, because if we are rejected for being someone else—well, it’s not really us who is being rejected…

In that way, being ourselves requires vulnerability.  That is the baseline.  So, it might be essential to remember that we all have specific qualities that add value to the world and that we are all in the same position.

Before the strengths we may have had hunches about what this meant, but no real language for expressing it.  We may have thought, “I am good at meeting people.” Or, “I like helping others.”  Or, “I am confidant only in certain situations.”

While such an awareness is a start, it certainly is not a roadmap.  Liking to help others is a bit vague, right?  There is, of course, a solution for that.

The strengths provide us with a vocabulary that illuminates the difficult-to-describe qualities of ourselves.  It’s a language that does something important right away: It puts a specific name around an abstract concept of our personality.  Then, it articulates general traits about us that include actions and/or places to look for action.

After all, it isn’t enough to be told that we are “always curious” about something.  That isn’t very useful.  Instead, if we are made aware of our strengths of input, learner, and/or ideation, for example, we can begin to frame our thinking around concrete concepts in a language shared by others.

Once we can do that we can begin to share our self-discovery with others.  We might do this actively (Saying, “Guess what I learned about myself?!”) or passively (living by example)—either way, when we are open to being who we are, we are able to find identification with others.

More than that, when we develop a pattern of looking for strengths in others, we begin to develop a high-quality mindset—one that looks for solutions instead of problems, one that finds things to like about others as opposed to dislike.  It’s a mindset that expects good things.

From there we discover that if everyone else has strengths that benefit us all, we must have them too.

What would it take to shift to a perspective where we focused on one another’s awesomenesses; one where we walked into situations saying, “I wonder how So-and-so is going to impress me today?”  Or, “I wonder what new thing I will like about them?”

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

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