3 Things to Know about your Strengths in the Real World

We often like to talk about our Strengths in the best possible situation. StrengthsFinder is built on positive psychology. It’s about what is good, right and wonderful about people. Your Strengths exist when you’re at your best. Technically, anything short of your best equates to using your Themes, not Strengths.

This is what I like to call the “real world” of Strengths, because that’s where we live most of the time. This could present itself when our work life is messy and we don’t respond to a co-worker through a Strengths lens.

How do you respond when the rubber hits the road and you are faced with situations or people that challenge, both positively and negatively, your Strengths?

The following are three things I’ve learned about my own Strengths as I’ve been challenged to examine them in the “real world.”

1 – Knowing your own Strengths is critical

Each of our Strengths will show up differently, depending on how our Strengths are paired together. You and I may share the Strength of Responsibility, but depending on our other Top 5 Strengths, that individual Strength can appear vastly different. It is one of the reasons we believe that taking a prescriptive approach can be so detrimental.

Taking the time to examine your own Strengths to determine how they show up in both challenging and uncomplicated moments is important. For example, I know that in moments of great challenge, my Strategic and Arranger pair together to find the obstacles and determine the quickest path around it. I can “see” both the 30,000 and 5-foot views. Coupled with my Communication, these actions can often appear quick, blunt, and without much thought for those around me. When in fact, I believe I am trying to make life easier.

In contrast, at times when I find moments of relaxation, my Input can explore all kinds of information and “file it away” for later recall.

In both cases, these Strengths are of great value to me, but in order to also make them valuable to others, I need to soften my Strategic and Arranger in moments of crisis, and utilize my Input at other times than just vacation.

Knowing these things about my own Strengths allow me to recognize triggers when I encounter the real world, and make adjustments as necessary.

2 – Knowing the Strengths of those Around You is Helpful

The philosophy behind Strengths Based Leadership, is to go beyond a personal understanding of how your own Strengths work,instead, applying Strengths to meeting the needs of others. We believe that no matter your title, everyone is a leader with the capacity for developing strong relationships and influencing others. In order to develop that capacity, you have to know and understand the Strengths of those around you.

I work with a dynamic and diverse group of people. They are one of the reasons I enjoy coming to work everyday! It is not always easy, because we are human after all with different opinions and objectives, which can prove challenging.

But, one thing we never stop working on is understanding each others Strengths and how they show up. Utilizing the concepts behind Strengths Based Leadership allows me to approach my colleagues in a way that’s meaningful to them, which is in turn is meaningful for me, and allows all of us to be more productive.

3 – Knowing when to Ask for Help

Recently, I can be heard saying to my colleagues, “I am not doing anything well.” I have been in a season of transition, and realized I am not good at knowing when to ask for help, or call for that proverbial “rescue boat.” Inevitably, I wait until I am drifting in open water, in a small raft, surrounded by sharks. YIKES!

My Responsibility Strength can get the best of me. And while I am a seasoned veteran of Strengths self-reflection, I still need to be reminded of that fact that I can’t do it all. In fact, I don’t NEED to do it all if we’re following the ideas of StrengthsFinder! I need boundaries to be the best version of myself.

I have to embrace those boundaries long before I am drifting in open water, as that is not the time to be reflecting on how my Strength of Responsibility really functions. I have realized that I have a team of dynamic people around me that are fully capable of walking alongside me. If we are truly engaging in the concepts of Strengths Based Leadership, I should be doing whatever I can to continue empowingthose around me.

Reflecting on Your Strengths

So even though I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my own Strengths, there are times when new revelations in the midst of the “real world” allow us some insight into our Strengths and give us even greater ability to “know our own Strengths.”

Have you taken the time to reflect on your own Strengths, and those around you? How do they respond in the “real world?”