July 29, 2016
Reason #2: It leads us out of denial and self-doubt and into greatness
When making a big decision, we’ve all probably asked ourselves, “Is this a springboard or a trapdoor?” One reason that we ask this question is because most of us have been instructed to try to be and become people who we are not necessarily meant to be and become. We, in various ways, are taught to ignore our strengths and focus on our weaknesses. This creates an inner-climate of self-doubt and denial. Pretty simple, right?
Donald O. Clifton, the father of strengths-based psychology, said it best: If your senses are numbed with delusion and denial, you will stop looking for these true strengths and wind up living a second-rate version of someone’s life rather than a worldclass version of your own.
Identifying our strengths—that is, identifying the areas that we naturally (and joyously) excel at—gives us an intelligible foundation for personal growth, one upon which we can point to and develop concrete actions.
Without a strengths perspective, we might get caught saying, “I want to help people and make the world a better place,” which is, at best, vague and abstract. However, once we’ve identified our areas of strengths (our strengths zones) we can say something like this, “I know that I can use my powers of empathy and my love of ideas to connect with people one-on-one and develop personalized strategies and solutions that change the world one person at a time.”
Getting specific about who we are allows us to get specific about what we can offer the world.
When we try to become more like someone else, we become less of who we are and more of someone who we cannot be. We can, of course, continue to admire, honor, and support others—but, let’s make sure that we, too, are admiring, honoring, and supporting ourselves in the process.
Imagine the inside of a watch. Some gears are bigger than others. Some sprockets play a more noticeable role than others. And, some parts are hidden completely from sight. However, large or small, none of the mechanisms inside of the watch are “extra”. They are all important. This can be proven by removing even the tiniest little spring from deep inside the apparatus and observing that the whole network stops working.
The point is this: Imagine if the little spring was trying only to be like the big gear. Even if it somehow succeeded in becoming the big gear—the watch still wouldn’t work—that is because the watch didn’t need another big gear…it needed the little spring to, literally, be itself and do what it was designed to do.
Our strengths give us insights into how we can be who and what we were designed to be. From there, we can take action and do what we are designed to do. And, do it well.
Action: Write down a few phrases about who you feel you are and what you feel you do best. Now, ask someone close to you—someone whom you trust and love—who they see you as. Ask them who they think you and and what they see you doing best in life. Compare the lists. Do they add up? Are you trying to have others see you as who you wish you were and who you want to be? Or, are you letting others see who you actually are?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.
Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com
His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.