Strengths are things we do with ease which means they don’t feel like strengths to us. We don’t recognize our strengths because we don’t see them as big deals. We assume if we can do it, everyone can do it.
I started organizing the kitchen junk drawer when I was 5 years old. I loved doing it. One of my strengths is organization. I didn’t realize it until I found people who couldn’t organize. My sister is an idea generator. In the span of 30 seconds, she can spit out seventy-three ideas. She thinks everyone can. It would take me twelve years and a boat load of research to generate seventy-three ideas. It’s easy to not recognize our own strengths and only see other’s strengths.
Our strengths are the value we bring to the world.
Since our strengths are the value we bring to the world and we are not paying much attention to them, it’s time for us to shift our focus. It’s time to nurture our strengths. Here are three practices to begin nurturing our strengths.
Pause to Reinforce
Start by noticing where you are strong — the things you do well and with some ease. Recognize where your strengths show up. Here is a brief list of strengths to help you get started on your own inventory.
Adaptable Decisive Honest Problem Solver
Ambitious Dependable Humorous Quiet
Analytical Determined Imaginative Realistic
Assertive Develop Others Inclusive Reliable
Authentic Disciplined Inquisitive Reserved
Collaborator Empathetic Inspirational Resourceful
Compassionate Enthusiastic Introverted Self-Aware
Competitive Ethical Leader Sensitive
Confident Extroverted Optimistic Spontaneous
Courageous Friendly Organized Stable
Creative Generous Perseverant Team Player
Critical Thinker Harmonious Persuasive Trustworthy
When you are in the middle of adapting, persuading, casting vision, (or whatever strength you operate in) pause and remind yourself you are bringing value to the world. At the end of the day, note what strengths you were using and celebrate each of them. Reinforcing your strengths is simply taking a moment to honor how you’ve contributed.
To foster a child, a project, a community, we encourage and promote the development of it. Fostering our strengths simply means it’s time to rehearse them. If you organize, move beyond your kitchen junk drawer and office desk. Start organizing others (with their permission, of course). If you’re a creative idea generator, start running those ideas by your supervisor or your team mates or fellow volunteers. Practicing your strengths in new and different environments fosters, expands, and tests them. It bolster your own confidence and helps you act on the fact that your strengths are the value you bring to the world.
Nourish and Cultivate
When we nourish a plant we give it the substance necessary for growth and health. Providing the plant with nutrition, sunlight, water causes it to grow beyond it’s container. Cultivating both plants and strengths requires our attention and intention. Since most of us think of our strengths as something everyone has, we do not intentionally cultivate them. What do strengths like courage, generosity and resourcefulness need to grow? How do you provide space for your strengths to grow? What larger container is needed? Nourishing your strengths involves allowing them to grow beyond what is currently containing them.
The more we appreciate our strengths, pause to reinforce them, practice fostering them and cultivate them, the more value we bring to our world. You are valuable and our world is in desperate need of your value.