Part 2 | Strengths and Pure Potential

strengths-photo-7November 30, 2016

There is that saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  And, living without inner or outer recognition of our strengths can make every tool that we possess look like a hammer and every situation we encounter look like a nail.  Embracing our potential as human beings, does not always mean being at the forefront and drilling down.  Sometimes knowing our worth means stepping back and entrusting others with life’s situations so that we can focus our energies on where we will develop most.

We truly add our unique value to the world when we are able to recognize the right tool for the right situation.  After all, someone who is gifted in leading does not always need to be leading, delegating, and conquering.  Likewise, someone who is good at identifying problems and proposing solutions, does not necessarily need to apply that talent to each and every situation.  Just because we have chosen to consciously develop our potential, we do not need to apply this development full-tilt 24/7.

Developing a strengths mindset means being conscious of who we are and what we can contribute.  It does not mean that we are in constant motion forcing our perspective upon the world at all times.  In fact, when we are truly living in this place of strength, we never have to force anything upon anyone…ever.

Instead, it means that there is an increased ease in our daily activities because we have a keen sense of what we can and cannot deliver to a situation.

Living in our strengths means that we have done the work to develop a deep awareness of what we bring to the table.  This means that we no longer have to live in the illusion that we can be all things to everyone.  We don’t have to try to do everything.  That is, because we know and value our unique gifts, we have an easier time asking for help and calling upon the gifts of others.

This is important, because, until we are aware of the true value of our own ideas and actions, it can feel threatening to say, “I am not the best person for the job…”.

Embodying a strengths perspective in all that we do removes us from the burden of trying to be good at everything, which allows us to hone in and develop areas where we have the most potential to be great.

Am I trying to be all things to everyone?  Is there an area in my life that I could ask for help?  Can I delegate some of my life’s responsibilities to someone better suited for the job?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

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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.

Part 1 | Strengths and Pure Potential

strengths-photo-7November 23, 2016

Think of the sand in an hourglass.

Consider, for a moment, the fact that there is a precise amount inside and, grain-by-grain, as it falls through the narrow opening, it measures time.  If there was any more or less sand inside it would change the result from an hour to something else—if we added sand perhaps we would get an “hour-and-five-minutes glass”, which just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  The point is that there is an exact amount of sand inside each hourglass.  Its volume is absolutely intentional.

Now, imagine smashing the glass open and pouring all of the sand out onto a table.

What is it now?  It’s just sand.  Plain old sand and nothing more.

We cannot point at it and say, for example, “That is an hour’s worth of sand.”  No.  Because as perfect and exact as it was inside the hourglass, when the sand is outside of it, it’s just a pile.

And, that is like us.  We can have all of this potential but it isn’t until we are in the right setting that it is activated and transmuted into something truly incredible and useful.

To think, something as simple as moving sand from a tabletop and putting it in a glass funnel can transform it from dirt into a device that measures the passing of time—which itself it mysterious, invisible, and illusive.

In that way, we can see that dramatic and broad-sweeping transformation does not always need to be arduous work.  It can be as simple as being in the right environment and circumstances.  It may mean connecting ourselves with a single other element in our life, which pairs our unique gifts with another’s in a way that transforms our pure potential into pure magic.

When we are focusing on our strengths and developing a mindset that allows us to live in the solution as opposed to the problem, we are creating a path toward true personal greatness and personal freedom.  With this perspective we are more likely to seek and find our areas of true potential and craft ways of developing them into life-giving experiences from which we change, evolve, and grow.

In what areas of my life am I feeling like a pile of sand in need of an hourglass?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

zach-profile

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.

Part 3 | How to Let Go and Grow! 

strengths-photo-4November 18th, 2016

If we’re alive—and assuming we are—we’ve heard the saying, “Knowing is half the battle.”  But, what does that really mean?

In an obvious sense, it means that the most difficult part of a situation can be the unknowns, which, once known, make it easier to move forward.  Building from there, we can see that knowledge all by itself can open a door to action, or at least pave the way.  Without the right information it can feel absolutely impossible to drive ahead because ignorance is a great purveyor of lose/lose situations.

So, in that way, just by simply getting the facts straight we are given some clarity about the situation(s) we are facing and, from there, we can put words around it and articulate a plan.  Even if that plan changes, we can, at least, form a strategy and make a start.

Take, for example, the process of letting go.  Maybe it is an old idea that we are trying to release—perhaps it’s a limiting belief or an ideology that no longer serves us.  It could even be a person or a group of people holding us back from our true potential and growth.  Whatever it is that we are trying to let go of, we are likely accustomed to having it in our lives and, in some cases, unable to truly see how it is affecting us.

If that is the case, we might feel on a subconscious level that something needs to shift, but we may grapple with how and what to change.  That is where the saying, “Knowledge is half the battle” comes into play.

Without naming what holds us back, we can become so used to living with a certain mentality that we lose the perspective to see that we have other choices available to us.  When this is the case, we generally don’t really consider alternatives to our self-constructed status quo.

A great example of this can be found in the daily messages that we repeat to ourselves about the way things are in our lives and about who we are as people as well as our potential as unique human beings.

If we tell ourselves that we are “awkward in social situations” we will likely continue to produce and reproduce this “truth”.  If we tell ourselves that we are “bad with money” or that we “don’t fit in” we will, inevitably, create circumstances that prove these “truths”.

Until we identify and name these messages for what they are—self-limiting beliefs—we cannot let them go.  We will think of these messages as truths and, in many cases, we link these negative messages to our social and emotional survival.  In a backwards way, self-deprecating messages give us the illusion of security because, in a worst-case scenario, we can at least say, “I already knew it would turn out like that…

Until we name our limiting beliefs, we cannot do much about them—we will continue living with them as the only option.  However, once we’ve become aware of them we can begin the work of letting them go by replacing them with messaging that does serve us and our greatness.

That is to say that having knowledge of them is the first step in releasing them.  After all, how can we let go of something that we do not even know we are holding.

As is so often the case, asking the right questions can open up the right doors.  And, from there, we can scale our actions up gradually until we see real results.  So, we can ask ourselves:

What are my limiting beliefs?

What messages do I repeat to myself that others might not?

Do I want to continue living these “truths”?

Can I point to and identify an area of my life that could be going better?

When I think of letting go of something, what is the very first thing that jumps into my head?

Knowledge, in this case, truly is power.

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.zach-profile

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.

Part 2 | How to Let Go and Grow!

strengths-photo-4November 9, 2016

Let’s consider for a moment how difficult it can be to start a lawnmower.  We drag it out of the garage, prime it, check the sparkplug, pull back the handle, and pull the rope.

Nothing.

We try again.  Nothing.  Then once more…nothing.  We kick it.  We flip it over, check the gas, pull it to another spot on the drive way.

We might spend ten minutes trying to figure it out and then, suddenly, it roars up and starts.

Once the mower is going, our job is relatively easy.  We swerve around the trees, follow the landscaping, and try to cut in straight lines.

That is, the most work was in getting it started.  Once that was achieved, it was smooth sailing.

This is often the case with our own personal development—so much of the work is in the beginning.  For some reason the learning curve is front-loaded, which is a blessing because in times of distress we can safely say, “It won’t always be so hard.”

If everything that was difficult in the beginning stayed difficult…we probably wouldn’t attempt much that challenged us.

So, when we sense that we must let something go in order to grow, we are wise to remind ourselves that, while it might be difficult at the start, it will not always be that way.

New beginnings, by definition, are full of unknowns.  (Note: If everything is known in a situation, it’s probably not a new beginning or a new anything—it’s probably more like an “again”).

Giving ourselves grace, patience, and love as we let things go allows us to move through life at a pace that is both tenable and active.  We allow ourselves to learn as we grow.

And, as we explore this model of change, we shed layers that are likely holding us back.  In doing so, we make room for new ideas, experiences, and people to flow through us and into our lives.

What am I holding on to?  Am I expecting every “lawnmower” in my life to start on the first pull?  How can I be better at giving others grace as they let go and start growing in their own ways?

 Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.

zach-profile

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.

 

Part 1 | How to Let Go and Grow!

shtrengths-shot-3November 2, 2016

What we think about matters.  It matters so much, in fact, that the thoughts we think, literally, mold our reality.

And, it’s not magic or woo-woo.  When we break it down, it’s actually pretty logical and easy to understand.  That is, when we think a specific thought over and over again, we are training our mind to look for it.  We either find evidence of its truth or find similar thoughts, which pair nicely with it.  So, thought-by-thought we build our impressions of the world; and, impression-by-impression we build our reality.

One of the easiest ways to see this in action is when we think that someone is, perhaps, irked with us.  When we have that specific thought in mind, we are prone to interpreting their words, actions, body language, and messages in a way that tells us, “Yep, they are definitely upset.”  When, in reality, they are not.  Nevertheless, the “reality” that we have created for ourselves in those moments is based not on truth, but, instead, on our own private thinking.

In that way, our thoughts created our reality—however false it was.  This quality of life can tie in with everything.

Let’s start small.  Say, for example, that we went to visit a friend in a new city and, from the moment we arrived, this person raved non-stop about how active and physically fit everyone in their city was.

Chances are, with this type of verbal conditioning, we would sub-consciously (and consciously) be on the look out for evidence of our friend’s claim about the physical-fitness of this new place.

Because our friend gave us something concrete to look for—healthy and fit people—we were encouraged to look for it.  And, when we look for something, we are more likely to find it.  In this case, we would mentally note all the people whom we saw exercising, eating well, and taking care of their bodies.  Their prompting created a filter for us and gave us something specific to notice and focus on.

However, they could have just as easily told us that everyone in their city was a smoker and, more likely than not, we would have noticed every person with a cigarette who crossed our view.

Thoughts are powerful like that.  So, when we are struggling with letting go of something—say, a past hurt, a resentment, or an emotional trauma—it is worth evaluating what types of thoughts we are having about this specific occurrence in our lives.

Are we replaying conversations over and over in our heads and re-living them?  Are we honing in on very specific details and ignoring the rest?  Are we playing the victim, the martyr, or the hero?

It really does matter, because the narrower our thinking is, the less room there is to have our ideas challenged by the thoughts and realities of others.  And, it is difficult to heal, evolve, and grow when we are re-creating the same event again and again in our mind.  When that happens, we become solidified in our own version of the world.  Not only can this be isolating, but it can also make it extremely difficult to let go of the past and forgive and move forward.

So, what are you holding on to that does not serve your greatness?  What thoughts do you think over and over again, repeatedly reliving the same scenario?  What would be an alternative to just one of these thoughts?

Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.zach-profile

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.