How Others Provide Perspective on Strengths

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt completely unprepared? Have you ever thought, “there’s no way I can do [fill in your thing],” only to realize, through the perspective of those who know your Strengths well, that you can? Recently, the reactions by two of my colleagues helped me go from panic, to having a plan all in the course of a few minutes. This whole thing started with a phone call.

Wait… why are you answering the phone? That must mean she is in labor!

Not long ago, I received some happy but unexpected news. I am in my first year as a varsity high school track coach, and my fellow sprints coach, the person I was learning from, had just gone into labor nearly a month early. This meant that all the responsibilities for the sprinters now fell to me.

Sheer panic is the only way I can describe this.

Of course I was happy my fellow track and field coach was having her baby, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle this new responsibility.

How The Reaction of Others Shifted my Focus

I happened to be sitting in the office at Leadership Vision, when this beautiful panic inducing call came. I could feel my heart rate rising and the pitch of my voice was getting higher and higher as I explained the situation to Brian and Bethany. I was distraught by their reactions.

“You’ll be fine!,” “I’m not worried about it in the least,” “Just look up some YouTube videos,” they said with smiles on their faces and laughter in their voices.

To be completely honest, I was close to tears at the end of that phone call and I was shocked at the lack of Empathy shown by my colleagues. I was in full on panic mode. To then turn around and see the giddy calm that Brian and Bethany had, made me stop in my tracks, and ask myself these questions:

  • Was I being irrational?
  • Was I freaking out for no reason?
  • What’s wrong with me?

Those questions were quickly followed by:

  • “Do I know more than I realize I do about coaching?”
  • “I watched my fellow coach teach block starts, I could probably teach it…”
  • “I can quickly do some research about handoffs.”
  • “We did a strength day yesterday so we should do over distance tomorrow, speed the following day, and have a recovery day after that…”

The more I pondered the more I realized that without thinking about it, I had just formed a practice plan for the rest of the week.

As I looked back at that moment, the calm that Brian and Bethany communicated to me that they had confidence in my skills as a coach. Their calm helped me engage my Focus in a generative way. I began to think about the next steps instead of all the things that could go wrong.

Next, my Achiever was able to step up to the plate, immediately followed by my Discipline: my dynamic duo. I immediately drafted an email to the rest of the coaching staff with a plan for the week. I was open and honest about the place I lacked knowledge in, but stood my ground on what I knew about coaching and sprints. “I can do this!” I said to myself.

Coaching with Confidence

I walked into practice the next day without one bit of panic. I had a plan, I was confident that I could coach these girls well. What I didn’t expect was the calm I had was because my Focus had been re-directed in a positive way, and my Individualization was able to engage in a beautiful way.

The more I owned the responsibility of coaching these girls, the more I felt a need to know each and every one of them as an athlete. I wanted to know what injuries they were struggling with, what type of workouts they liked, what types of workouts they would need encouragement during, and I wanted them to know I cared for them as individuals not just as athletes.

What About You?

Sometimes the power of having someone else see you with fresh eyes is refreshing. When you’re so in the moment, you lose perspective and forget what makes you strong. It can be paralyzing, and to have someone snap you back can be exactly just want you need to get you back on track.

Have you ever been surprised by someone’s reaction when you share with them? Instead of feeling hurt by their reaction or like your voice wasn’t heard, have you taken the time to pause and think about what Strengths their reaction could engage in yourself?