I few weeks ago I was challenged to re-evaluate what I felt my strengths were. This made me think back to several years ago when I was going through my coaching certification. In that certification course, I did several exercises to uncover the hidden strengths I may not have not been aware of. One of those exercises was to ask several people who were fairly familiar with me what they felt were my 3 top strengths were, “superpowers” if you will. At the time I thought I knew exactly what people were going to say…boy was I in for a surprise.
The first people I approached were, of course, my husband and my 3 children. I mean, who knows you better, right?
I was in total shock when 3 out of 4 of them said the same top strength…organized! I did not feel I was very organized nor did I think anyone would see that in me. They agreed on the second strength as well, communication and reaching out to others. Well at first I disagreed with them but as they were very insistent AND three of them had said the same thing WITHOUT hearing each other I started to wonder. Am I really that organized and is that something people see in me? And secondly, I do love communicating with others and I help people for my business of course. But to have these stand out as my top strengths was a little perplexing to me.
I asked my family to explain why they chose “organized” and they explained to me all the things I did that they saw as an organized person. Not just in my business, but in our family and the activities we did. As they explained one thing after another I found myself nodding my head. Yes, I do love to plan our family trips, business trips, in fact, I’ll plan a trip for anyone. Yes, I have routines and systems for almost everything, I agreed with what they were saying but I just didn’t see these as strengths.
But what I learned is to trust in what others saw in me as strengths..my superpowers, then work hard to improve on those and not worry about my weaknesses as much.
Now, when I was recently challenged to re-evaluate my strengths, I decided I would repeat this challenge in the same way I did several years ago.
But this time I went a little broader and asked people from several areas of my life for their opinion. (not just my family and friends) I talked with several of them about why they chose the strengths and got their feedback on what they thought. This time I asked 20 people, not just a few. Even though I knew a little more about what answers I would get I was still surprised by what some people saw as strengths in me.
THIS IS THE KEY TO THE CHALLENGE. By asking others what they see as your strengths you will discover strengths that were previously hidden to you. Because some of them are your natural talents and they don’t always appear as strengths to you. But to others, they stand out as something that defines you.
What happens is that many times we don’t have an opportunity to use our strengths every day, so our natural talents go untapped. And because we don’t see them as strengths we don’t work to improve them. At times we even spend more time fixing our shortcomings than developing our strengths.
So I am going to give YOU this same challenge. Go out and contact 20 people who know you from different areas of your life. Your work, social environment, friends, neighbors, etc. Ask them to name the three top strengths they see in you. Then after you receive their responses ask a few of them why they chose those strengths. You will learn a great deal if you listen to what people see in you.
Then start learning everything you can about those strengths, and work on growing them even more. A book I would suggest you read to learn more about your own strengths is “Strengths Finder 2.0”. it’s one that I have read and is a Wall Street Journal’s best seller. If you will take advantage of this challenge you will find that you learn so much more about what others see in you.