Three Powerful Lessons About Strengths
Welcome to the Leadership Vision Podcast, where we share our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a Strengths-Based approach to people, teams, and culture.
Brian has been immersed in the world of Strengths since almost day one and learned from one of the masters. Recently he was cleaning out his desk and came across notes from his learnings over 20+ years ago. In this episode, we discuss three powerful lessons he has learned about Strengths and how we can still apply them today. Enjoy!
Three Powerful Lessons About Strengths
There are three things that stood out from Brian’s notes: Strengths are not silos, they are mixtures. Some people are at their best when no one else is around. And all Strengths are transportable to different areas of life.
1. Strengths are not Silos, they are Mixtures
Erase the boundary of what you know of about a Strength. Strengths don’t work alone, they work in pairs; they are not silos, they are mixtures. This quote is from Chip Anderson, a partner, collaborator, and co-creator of Strengths with Donald Clifton. Over the last 22 years, we have seen over and over again how this quote is true. Strengths mix, blend, and work in close synchronicity with each other.
Understanding Strengths as mixtures, not silos, allows the freedom for someone who’s learning about the language of Strengths to not be confined by the silo of the word but to be free to explore the expression of each of their talents of Strength.
A Challenge for Leaders:
A challenge to Strengths practitioners or leaders is to release their mental hold on what a Strength looks and sounds like so that they can see Strengths working together. When you see Strengths mixing, blending, and pairing, then explain that to someone else without using Strengths language. Let yourself come up with new words and ways to describe what you’re seeing, feeling, and experiencing when someone is demonstrating their Strengths.
2. Some People are at their Best When No One Else is Around
What happens when a Strength comes most alive when no one else is around? Think about the writers who spend hours and hours researching and writing when no one else is looking. Think about the artists who are painting alone in an empty studio. Think about the musician who’s composing music and practicing for hours and hours when no one is around. In those moments of isolation and solitude, some people’s Strengths are the most bright and the most alive.
How do we give people the freedom to truly embrace that their Strengths may be the most alive, the most beautiful, and most brilliant when no one else is immediately around? Get curious about the things that make someone come to life that prepare them for their day.
A Challenge for Leaders:
Let people find the best way to be themselves. Ask people where and when they feel they are at their best. Learning when others feel they’re at their best will give context to when they believe they’re the most ‘on’, energetic, and ready. Another thing it will do is give an indication of their capacity. If they’re isolated and alone, we are not observing that. So we don’t have any demonstration of their capacity because no one else is around. This question may also point us to the type of creativity that an individual can bring to a team because now we know how this person spends their time when they’re at their best.
3. All Strengths are Transportable to Different Areas of Life
Wherever you go, no matter your audience, you have your Strengths in your backpack to resource and take out whenever needed, among whomever, and wherever you are. The genesis of this quote is an illustration Chip Anderson would use about Strengths in your backpack.
Strengths are always with you and are not applied to a specific context, audience, or specific time. They are transportable to different areas of life; different relationships, social contexts, and emotional expressions. Strengths have this ability to be pliable in their demonstration, to shape, shift, or bend themselves into a situation.
A Challenge for Leaders
A challenge for leaders is to ask themselves, how does this Strength demonstrate itself in [fill in the blank] context? How does this Strength demonstrate itself in this relationship? While listening to this song? While watching this movie? There’s so much beneficial practice that can be done on teams when you give people the ability to speak to how their Strengths come alive within a specific context. Let your people choose the context. You’re deepening your knowledge of that person.
A Lifetime of Strengths Lessons
At this point in Brian’s 25-year journey, he says that Strengths are more like a liquid than anything else. They shape and shift to the environment that they’re in. Liquid can change its form, take on different tastes, and be mixed with different things to create different outcomes. There’s something about this openness, curiosity, and freedom to interpret and understand Strengths that is one of his great takeaways from some of the early lessons from Chip Anderson.
It’s an honor to share these lessons with you, our readers and listeners, because we don’t want to hold them for ourselves. We want to share what we’ve learned with the world!
Connect with Us!
What takeaways do you have from this episode and Brian’s powerful lessons about Strengths? How can you apply these lessons to your everyday life and work? And how can you better understand your Strengths, as well as the Strengths of the people on your teams? We would love to hear from you, connect with me at email@example.com.
About The Leadership Vision Podcast
The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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