In September, Linda shared a beautiful story of her work and the StrengthsFinder tool with her parents. It inspired me to think about how I might bring Strengths based knowledge and conversation into all areas of my life.
In my previous post, I mentioned my dad’s passing. It was his unexpected death and a series of life events that catapulted my journey to discovering the work of StrengthsFinder and Leadership Vision. Over the last year, I found myself wondering what my dad’s Strengths were so I could describe him to future generations.
Now that I have been studying Strengths for some time, I can guess and hypothesize my dad’s top 5 StrengthsFinder themes. I especially like to think about the Strengths we might have shared. One that immediately comes to mind is Developer. My dad sought to draw from others what they did not always see in the themselves. He was born into a farm family and though he did not choose farming as his profession, he was always proud to have a bountiful garden and an immaculate yard. He was constantly looking for opportunities to improve and nurture the plants and soil. I live out my strength of Developer in a similar way.
The real power comes from an individual’s commitment to better understanding themselves through a lens of Strength and being curious enough to learn about the Strengths they are surrounded by at home, work and in their greater community.
Understanding your Family with Strengths
I can’t wait for my children to be able to take StrengthsFinder. Not only so that I can better understand and appreciate their person, but also that they can do the same.
In our home, my husband and I acknowledge each other’s Strengths. “My Activator is bumping heads with your Analytical”. Usually this has to do when I want to make a quick decision about [something] and he wants to analyze the myriad of different factors affecting my decision. I want my children to appreciate our unique approaches to decision-making, problem solving, and communicating.
Recently, I’ve taken on using the metaphor “lens of Strength”. I describe this like having permanent contacts. I can not stop seeing people through the lens of Strength. Even when interacting with strangers, I find myself looking for cues about what their Strengths might be. This is especially helpful when I feel like I am at odds with a friend or family member. I practice the technique of taking a “Strengths pause” to appreciate why they might be approaching the process of making a decision differently than I would. Do they have the strength of Deliberative and need more time to process before moving forward? Are they leveraging their Strength of Context and seeking to understand the history of the relationship before moving forward?
At times, I am impatient with the lack of Strengths based understanding of others. Sometimes I wish everyone was required to wear a nametag with their top five Strengths listed. While helpful, this would not fully address that absence of a greater understanding of Strengths.
Leaving a Legacy
At my dad’s funeral, I shared that one of the most profound lessons he taught me was to love unconditionally and without judgement. I will always remember how all those in attendance quietly nodded their heads in agreement – what an incredible legacy. He was always quick to remind me to consider what I might not see or fully understand about others. For me, StrengthsFinder is much the same. Though it does not require us to love, it does challenge each of us to pause, wonder and appreciate the other.
It is unfortunate I did not have the opportunity to share the language of Strengths with my dad. I know he would be proud I have committed my life to encouraging others to honor themselves unconditionally and without judgement.
StrengthsFinder Beyond the Office
If you have not already, dive deep into the StrengthsFinder pool. Not only in your workplace, where it is most commonly used, but bring it into your home and into your personal life. Share it with your partner, your best friend, your siblings, your children, and your parents.
Strengths speak to the distinct uniqueness of our person. They are the things for which we will be remembered. Some of this has the chance of being misunderstood if not well articulated. Don’t leave it to chance. When you approach your relationships with a “Strengths lens”, you will get further, faster. Starting a conversation with “My Empathy feels misunderstood by your Command”, goes alot further then “you’re bossy and you don’t care about my feelings.”
As you think about the professional and personal relationships in your life, which ones would benefit from a Strengths-based approach?