How embracing my strengths enabled me to be braver
I’ve been incorporating strengths into my training and coaching practice over the past 20 years, helping others to appreciate the value and importance in recognising their strengths, and the links to their enhanced happiness and success.
The use of strengths was taken up a notch for me nearly 3 years ago when I added `group coaching’ to my business services, as a Bird Table coach. Founder of The Bird Table Aly King-Smith incorporated `strength based’ exercises into these business development group sessions (attended by up to 6 local business women), providing an opportunity for members to pause, reflect and recognise the strengths they hold, and to explore how they might use these assets to overcome business challenges and to maximise opportunities.
The research tells us we are more likely to be happier, engaged and successful in achieving our goals, if we use our strengths. Others potentially benefit to; our customers, colleagues, teams and the organisations we work with, as we enhance our energy and skills, and a more positive mind-set evolves. By taking the time to think about, recognise and appreciate our strengths, and allowing them to be brought to the surface, we then have a better chance of using them (rather than keeping them hidden in a draw!).
From my experience, people often feel uncomfortable when probed for their strengths. They may feel awkward, and a little embarrassed, so it’s important to put it into context when taking the time to recognise and appreciate strengths in ourselves, and others. It can feel quite a different approach when working with strengths, as we’re focusing on what is done really well, rather than what needs to be improved. Human nature may take us to “I didn’t do this well”, and I encourage others to consider “what did you achieve?” and “what strengths were at play?”
Another perspective is to consider, what strengths serve you well? This has served me VERY WELL in recent years, as a Director and 1-lady-band of KC Learning & Development, and Mum to primary school twins. Focusing on my strengths has been invaluable to my motivation and business success, helped with regular peer coaching, planning and reviews, and my cherished daily appreciation journal.
So, if you are curious about your strengths, and getting clarity on the ones that energise and excite you, here are a few ways to explore this further, detailed in no particular order:
- Write yourself a list of `strength statements’, this allows you to consider your achievements and what strength(s) others value in you, for example, I would say;
“I have the ability to ask key questions to create thinking time for others”
“I build relationships quickly and ensure I stay connected”
“I am organised and prioritise, and ensure all customer work is given the focus to achieve deadlines”
- Ask trusted colleagues and customers, what do they value most about you? What strengths do they admire? What differentiates you from others?
- Complete strengths profile (and an alternative, below).
- Seek coaching, to explore your strengths profile, and/or your own self –assessment & feedback you’ve collated. I would be happy to chat with you about this
There has been significant scientific research linking strengths to improved happiness, goal-setting, performance, relationships and well-being. I’ve included some useful resources, background, case studies and strength profile tools
At The Bird Table conference earlier this year I attended a session by Trudy Bailey from CAPP, where she explained the R2 strengths profiler we had all completed. This strengths profile, (consisting of 60 strengths) provides ideas to maximise your strengths, and is broken down into 4 sections.
Realised Strengths; we tend to use these a lot, they help us perform well, and can be energising. USE WISELY
Unrealised Strengths; these are the ones you find energising and perform well at, and don’t use as often. USE MORE
Learned Behaviours; Things you have learned to do well, they don’t energise you. USE WHEN NEEDED
Weaknesses; Things you find hard and don’t enjoy. USE LESS
So, after a coaching conversation to help me explore my strengths further, I concluded:
- My highest Realised Strengths is Personal Responsibility. A light bulb moment for me was that this was becoming an `overplayed strength’, and was actually less energising. I was taking responsibility for others actions as well as my own, which was creating stress. So, for me, being aware of this and noticing my own behaviours, and the signs of building up to stress, has helped me to keep this strength in check!
- My highest Unrealised Strengths is Spotlight. I have been focusing on this over the past few months, looking for ways to raise my profile, and to influence others in a positive way, which has resulted in unsolicited feedback and improved business performance!
Finally, you may notice you are drawn to a particular strength, or to a `strength statement’. Notice that, and seek ways to bring that to life. For me, I was really drawn to “I am brave and take risks”, and endeavoured to find ways to stretch myself and `put myself out there’ especially with my business development and service offering. I continue to feel energised, excited and rewarded, in bringing `brave’ to life.
I’d be delighted to talk further if you have any questions, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation.