A Visual Representation of My Strengths

Editor’s Note: Steph participated in our Winter Strengths Communicator Training cohort. The following is what she shared when participants presented an image of their Strengths to the group. Everyone from our team who was in the room thought it was so good; it needed to be her next post. For context, her Strengths as: Achiever, Discipline, Individualization, Focus, and Competition.

What You See

This photo was taken in 2013 at one of the last track meets of my college career. It was the indoor conference championships.

At Leadership Vision, we often ask the question, “what do you see?” when looking at an image.

When I look at this picture I see:

  • A bar that is setting a standard
  • Me attempting to meet that standard
  • That not only am I meeting the standard, but I’m exceeding it, which is giving me confidence for the next jump when the bar will be higher
  • A high jump standard holding the bar in place. This standard is telling me where I have come from, where I’m at, and where I’m going
  • That everything in the background is blurry, and only me, the bar, and the standard are in focus
  • Everything that is right with this jump and everything that’s wrong with it
  • That my legs are at the right angle, but they should be closer together
  • That I did a one arm block, that isn’t right or wrong, it’s just how I jump
  • That my hips are pushed up, which is good, but my head isn’t tilted back, which is bad

When I look at this picture I see a physical representation of my Strengths.

I like to be measured. I like clear expectations with the opportunity for me to exceed those expectations. I have intense focus at the time of execution. I like seeing the progress I’ve made, seeing things, heights, checked off my list. I like that this photo shares with you a piece of who I am.

What You Don’t See

What you don’t see in this image is what happened before the jump and what happened after the jump.

Just looking at this photo, I know that I cleared this height. I know that because I know my jump. I know every step and movement of my approach.

  • I put my right toe on my mark.
  • I take a deep breath, in through my nose, out through my mouth.
  • I shake out my hands.
  • I rock back on my right heel three times.
  • I take three long, powerful strides, and then I sprint.
  • At the 6th step of my approach, I begin my curve.
  • I dip my shoulder.
  • I speed up and shorten my last three steps and plant!
  • I ride my jump up as high as I can go then I turn.
  • I push my hips and wait to flip my feet.
  • I land on the mat and immediately look up to see where the bar is.

To me, it’s important that you not only see this snapshot but that you understand I had a process that took a long time to master to make this jump successful. It’s also important for you to know that I completed it. I finished the jump. Afterward, I went back and sat with my teammates. I anxiously waited for the bar to be raised to the next height. Then I repeated my process.

I may not clear the next height on the first try, the second try, or even the third try. Each height is a little scarier. I never know when the height will come that will force me to adjust my approach when my diligently practiced structure needs to be altered. But each time the bar was raised, my focus and determination intensified.

If I failed, I tried harder next time.

In the end, I never cleared my goal height. Part of me looks back on my high jump career and feels like I failed. But another part of me looks back and knows that each time I attempted to clear that height, I tried my hardest. I never gave up. For that, I am proud.

What Image Represents Your Strengths?

If asked to choose an image that represents your Strengths, what would you choose and why? Come up with your own narrative to go along with the image and share with a friend!