Strengths in The Rearview: A Process for Reflection

I always have the best intentions with trying to hang onto the moments that matter. I used to save the bits and pieces of life. You would think these artifacts of my existence deserve a special place of their own; a velvet lined hope chest perhaps, with each event meticulously categorized by year and significance. Perfect.

Yeah right. Let’s be honest.

I’ve got a faded blue Rubbermaid bin tucked under the stairs, labeled with teeth-ripped masking tape and a sharpie. Memory Box.  Stuffed with awkward school photos, ticket stubs, killer mixtapes, unrequited love notes, report cards, trophies, angst-filled diaries and discolored newspaper clippings. Outtakes and excerpts from the highlight reel of my life.

I rarely visit this box anymore.  It seems I am too busy being busy. Apparently, I have no need to ponder the significance of my past. My life has gone digital. Convenient, I suppose, yet disturbingly void of the texture that my whimsical collection provides. But today, amidst a frenzied attempt to find some inane detail from long ago, I find myself compelled to explore these layers once again. I choose to pause. I make the time to revisit the years, linger over the relics and turn up the volume on those muted memories.

The Strengths Hidden Within

There is an undeniable story of Strength in this box. I’d never looked at it that way before. But amidst the beautiful mess, is a profound narrative of where my Strengths began….who I was…..and who I am. Despite the buffer that time provides, emotion is inescapable and surprisingly visceral. Blowing the dust from each memory reveals the forgotten pride, regret, passion, hurt, grief, shame and love. Untouched.  Each one a part of my story and each one traced back to Strength.

You see, it matters not whether your version of the Memory Box is literal or metaphorical.  What matters is that you give yourself the gift of time to delve back into it and embrace the Strengths hidden within.  Many people rely too heavily upon who they are right now to help them make sense of their Strengths. The flaw in this process is that as people, we are not one dimensional.

We are a collection.

An accumulation of experiences that continually influence, highlight, nurture, and even suppress our Strengths. So sometimes, we need to go back to truly move ahead.

The Rearview

I invite you to try this process that I call ‘The Rearview”. Whether you are a Strengths Coach, Team Facilitator or just looking to understand your own Top 5 – this work has impact. These questions will help you to think deeply and reflect on past experiences that may have been submerged for some time. It is my hope that sifting through these memories will give new buoyancy to your Strengths and your story.

So give yourself some time and space to answer a few or all of these questions. Feel free to write your answers, reflect quietly or share your thoughts aloud.

  1.   As you look back in the Rearview mirror of your life, what do you see?
  2.   What is the earliest memory you have of your Strengths?
  3.   What has given you the most energy in your life?
  4.   Who were you before the world told you who to be?
  5.   When, if ever, have your Strengths gone dark? Why?
  6.   Who have been the most influential people in your life? Can you see their reflection in your Strengths?
  7.   What moments are you most proud of and how did your Strengths shine through?

I would love to hear your feedback once you have done some of these questions or used them to support others.