This week I had the opportunity to deliver training in person. Technology is amazing and, over the last 18 months or so, the ability to connect with people with virtual communication has meant that work can be done which would otherwise be more challenging. However, there is a different energy being physically in the room, and it is an energy that I find plays to my strengths of seeing how people are reacting to the training and knowing whether I am being understood. Knowing our strengths can be a game changer when we use them to equip and empower other people.
Do you know what your strengths are?
You might think of your strengths as what you are gifted at doing or what comes easily to you. I think culturally as Brits we find it difficult to acknowledge our strengths. Having confidence in areas where you can bring your best contribution brings a greater capacity to the teams you work with and when all of you are bringing your best then the potential for greater productivity is enhanced.
The area of our strengths is often contained within the things we enjoy doing. This has to do with the fact that they give us life or bring us energy. Again, let me ask you do you know what your strengths are? Knowing our strengths is a part of self-awareness. When you are aware of your strengths you can manage how you use them, and when you use them, you can think into how you can maximise them for the benefit of others. But we can often confuse enjoyment with satisfaction.
I may gain satisfaction in completing a task like making some flat packed furniture. It often takes me a lot longer to do it than I thought, but there is the satisfaction of a completed piece of furniture which seems to resemble the picture on the front of the instructions. There is a sense of achievement but was it life giving? Did it give me energy? Do I want to do it again? Not so much.
A helpful definition of strengths I came across is from Marcus Buckingham who has spent a lot of time researching the field of strengths whilst working at Gallup.
“Strengths are not activities you\’re good at, they\’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you\’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you\’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you\’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.”
How can you discover your strengths?
1. Know Yourself – to know your strengths starts with you knowing yourself. Each day has to be led intentionally in order for you to get the most out of it and maximise your effectiveness as a person. It is important then to evaluate your skills, gifts, strengths and weaknesses so that you are in a better place to manage your own tendencies. You can’t change what you can’t see.
2. Ask Others – often you are not the best person to assess your own strengths. Take the time to ask trusted friends, family and colleagues about what they have observed as your strengths.
3. Past experience – think back on your work and life experience to those things where you have gained energy or things that have been life-giving to you. The things, as Marcus said, that you look forward to, where time goes by quickly and you easily get immersed in it.
4. Have one to one coaching – use a coach who is trained to help you unearth your gifts, talents and strengths through asking powerful questions. Many benefit from a coach to explore this, you can get in touch here.
These are 4 simple things that you can do now to think into your strengths. In a sense you owe it to those around you to be the best you can be as a leader, follower, friend and colleague so you can encourage and empower those around you to be the best that they can be.
STOP PRESS – My new book I See You is being published today. You can get your copy here.