5 Ways to Embrace Your Strengths
If you don’t like what’s happening in our world, do something about it! Channel your inner superhero and make a positive difference!
I don’t know about you, but I’m growing tired of all of the negativity and hateful rhetoric on the news, online, basically everywhere these days. It seems that the loudest, most negative voices are the ones that get the most press. Here’s the thing…we can counter it with voices of hope, positiveness and change. One way to do that is to understand what your unique strengths are and approach things from a place of positivity, not fear and insecurity.
We have all heard, at one time of another, about our “areas for improvement”. Whether as a child, from a well-meaning teacher, or during a performance review at work, at some time in our lives, someone has highlighted our “weaknesses”. The idea is, that if we know where we “lack”, we can improve, get better, grow….I say stop! Instead of focusing on things we may never be brilliant at, let’s amplify the things we are naturally strong in. Now I know, some of you are already saying “but Ciara, I’m not naturally good at anything”…to you I say (lovingly), you are wrong…for one, you are clearly good at putting yourself down! Kidding aside, I truly believe that if we focus and grow our strengths, we can be more successful, more fulfilled, and all around happier. Imagine what you could accomplish and how you could change the conversation if you truly understood what you’re really good at, and how to apply it in your everyday life (and beyond)!!
Here’s an example…one of my strengths, according to VIA Character Strengths, is Kindness. I think on some level I’ve know this for a long time but honestly, resisted it. In our society unfortunately kindness is seen by some as weakness, so, for a long time I hid my kindness behind sarcasm, “toughness”, and really had an invisible wall up around me that few could get through. I think those close to me knew that I was kind, but I hid it from the world at large. What was also striking was I was not kind to myself! Hiding my true nature was exhausting! I would literally have to make decisions constantly about what to say, do, how to act…sound familiar? Recently, I was moved by events happening here and abroad to start a Kindness Revolution. It was my innate response to the anger and hate. I no longer hid my kindness and it felt incredible! What impact could you have if you appreciated and amplified your strengths?
When you live in a way that is counter to your true self, it’s taxing on the mind body and spirit. Think about the mental stress you put on yourself while trying to either “perfect” something that’s not natural for you or trying to suppress something that is part of you. When you let go of that way of living, and truly embrace your natural gifts, you really can change the world! I believe we need people to stand up against the bullies in this world and particularly those of us with strengths like Kindness, Fairness, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, Gratitude, Teamwork etc.
So, how do we start? By learning what our natural strengths are. There are two strength analysis methods I like, VIA Character Strengths, and Strengths Finder 2.0. Each of them use a series of questions to determine your signature or core strengths and provide insights on opportunities to use them. Once you know what your strengths are you can start to learn about what they mean to you and how they can play a part in your life and the world.
When you know what you’re naturally good at and learn how to amplify those traits you can become unstoppable! If you continue to try to get better at things that don’t come naturally to you, you can certainly become good at them and with enough practice, even skilled but it will always be a struggle and you may never excel I those areas. For example, I could probably get OK at hitting free-throws on the basketball court if I spent enough time at it, but I’ll never make the WNBA! And, I’ll have spent countless hours to become merely alright at free-throws, when I could have spent the time becoming amazing at something I have a natural talent for. So, what’s it to be…become pretty good by working really hard at it, or, become awesome with less effort and learn how fabulous you are in the process! I know which one I want to spend my time on!
Be kind to one-another,
Originally published at www.ciaragogan.com on July 22, 2016.