What exactly is a personal strength? I’d say it’s those things that invigorate us as an individual. They feel a natural part of us and they boost our lives and daily performance.
A strength is not the same as a skill or competence –well not necessarily. You may highly competent at your job but at the end of the day you feel unsatisfied and depleted. A strength is something that energizes us and feels like the real ‘us’. It’s not surprising therefore to find people using their spare time in pursuits that come somewhere towards that goal whether it’s art, music, sports, writing, and so on.
Don’t feel that Strengths are Activities.
They may be, but they may also be hidden or so taken for granted we don’t see them for what they are.
Take listening as an example. It’s easy to assume that everyone is a capable listener but this really isn’t the case. You may be highly attentive when people talk and you retain information that comes your way. Over time you perhaps see contradictions in what is being said, or certain repeated themes that gives you clues as to motives, concerns, and so on. You may also find that you get frustrated with others because they don’t appear to share these qualities. This may be a sign of a personal strength of active listening that you’ve taken for granted.
Reflecting on our personal strengths isn’t easy and sometimes it can take the views of a close friend or loved one to point these out.
The fact you might be sensitive to the feelings of others is a strength, but so is love of learning, creativity, being non-judgmental, humour, patience, persistence, being forgiving, friendliness, kindness, modesty.
Strengths are like a Personal Toolkit.
When things seem to go wrong we can use them to our advantage. Say you’ve been feeling very stressed at work and so you decide to visit the doctor. Far from being a sign of weakness you should look to your strengths. You’ve got insight to take action. You’re tapping resources by visiting the doctor and using systems available to you. You’re determined to get on top of the situation or at least to a point where you can cope more easily with it. These are all strengths.
Somehow thinking about the negatives seems to come more naturally but spending time considering our positives feels self-indulgent. That’s a pitty because every single one of us is brimming with personal strengths many of which are only seen by others. So if you’ve read this far how about spending a few more minutes to yourself thinking about your personal strengths and enjoying them for what they are.