Using Strengths Outside our Day Jobs

Through the exponential increase in self-awareness that Strengths provides, we can be more selective about the things and people we commit ourselves to. We will have an easier time saying no to the things that do not give us life, and seeking out opportunities that do. Often, we are able to find more ways to use our Strengths in places outside of our day-jobs.

Several months ago, Nathan and I were talking about this. We had a conversation about all of the things each member of our team team is  professionally involved in, in addition to their role with Leadership Vision.

For example,  Nathan is the founder of MinneapolisRunning.com, a website focused on creating community and meaningful content for Minnesota runners. Joseph is an assistant volleyball coach at a local private college, and Steph is a camp program director. These are just few of the examples of how our team members are doing amazing and demanding work in addition to their contributions as members of the Leadership Vision team. Nearly every person on our team wears several hats in their professional life.

In one of my previous posts, I shared that my role with Leadership Vision is one component of my professionalism. I have a full-time role with a local independent school and I am a certified yoga instructor. Oh, and did I mention I have two small children and a marriage I’m on fire about? It’s a lot and I am regularly asked “how are you doing this”? I often wonder myself!

Upon further reflection, I’ve concluded that it has much to do with the awareness of my strengths. I know who I am, I know what meaningful opportunities look like, and I can articulate the environment in which I know I will thrive and be successful. How a person defines each of these will be as unique to them as their strengths.

Not the Right Hat

I have several people in my life who overcommit because they are hopeful that tacking on another commitment will further their professional aspirations. Recently, my friend took on the role of secretary for a board she was sure would provide future career advancement. With time she found herself drained, overwhelmed, and resentful toward what was suppose to be an engaging opportunity. We talked through the experience using the language of Strengths and discovered that her StrengthsFinder theme of Strategic was being stifled by her role as secretary.

While she was busily taking notes and working hard to capture all that was being discussed and decided, she was unable to participate and engage in the meetings in a meaningful way for her. She wanted to be fully present and contributing to the discussion and decisions in real time.

Our Team, The Hat Rack

I am in perpetual awe of my Leadership Vision colleagues and all the ways they share themselves and their talents with the communities and organizations that are important to them. I know it’s not always easy, but none of us would give any of it up.

By leveraging our Strengths we have identified places and tasks that provide us a great sense of meaning and satisfaction. In a sense, Strengths awareness makes “space” for more because choosing is informed and empowered. Wearing many hats also provides each of us opportunities to meet and experience strengths within a variety of contexts, further influencing our ability to serve as experienced consultants.

When I think about how many hats exist in the world, I love this analogy all the more. I am reminded that it’s not just about the hat you wear, but perhaps more important is where you chose to hang it. When you know and understand your Strengths, you be have a better chance to define your hat and know where to hang it.

How to Apply this to your Life

To apply this to your life, you really need to understand the things that makes your Strengths go wacky, and off track. It’s about knowing what you need to protect yourself, and to be able to give your best in whatever setting you decide to invest in.

For example… for Carrie, her theme of Responsibility has learned to be very careful in guarding the things she will take psychological ownership over things. She knows she will kill herself to get it done, and has to say no, and only agree to help with the things she is truly passionate about. Saying no, then, has become the thing to keep her from becoming a miserable hot mess.

Nathan gets very excited about ideas (Ideation), and especially ideas that involve creating something “cool” for the future. It can often be too easy to veer off into rabbit trail ideas that seem good, but don’t drive directly towards that future. He has found that there needs to be a very focused with a clearly defined idea and goal at the end. Otherwise he’s just stuck spinning his wheels, and ultimately gets burnt out.

Q: Who in your life wears many professional hats? How are they leveraging their strengths to drive success on their hat racks?