Strengths Coaching Blog

Friday, November 20, 2015

Strengths: Different Paths to the Same Destination

Strengths allow us to understand the way others contribute to the world.

Toward the center of our galaxy -- about 2 billion light years away -- is a supermassive black hole named PDS 456. It’s something so huge it can barely be quantified.

So, how big is it? 

Every second, the winds that swirl around PDS 456 conduct more energy than a trillion suns.
Impressive as that fact is -- and as small as it might make us feel in comparison -- what we do with our lives still matters. We make a difference. We live and interact with others every day. So, what we do, say and think impacts those we interact with –- and the world at large around us.

This is where embracing strengths becomes enormously useful in enhancing the way we affect the world. Using the Clifton StrengthsFinder to name your strengths and develop a perspective where we look for assets instead of defects in others. This reframed view of the world around us helps to ensure that our interactions with people are constructive, productive and positive. That is, strengths bolster our ability to give others the benefit of a doubt. If we can do that, we can see others for who they are, not who we wish they were.

Instead of thinking, “That person is so controlling!”, if we take the time to consider that they may possess the strengths of Command, Achiever or Discipline, it becomes easier to see the value in that person’s leadership. Or, our perception of a colleague who seems too contemplative or quiet may be better understood when it is unveiled that they possess dominant strategic thinking themes like Analytical, Intellection or Context. We may be repelled by a fellow team member with a big personality -- but once we discover their strengths of Activator, Maximizer, Woo or Communication -- we can see that they are inherently built to influence others to reach new and bigger goals. In this way, we learn to reframe our thinking around the idea that this person is leading with their strengths -- behaving in the way they were designed to act.

Because, in the end, most of us are striving to become the best versions of ourselves. Since strengths tell us that there are at least 34 perfect approaches to any situation, an understanding of strengths more generally fosters clarity around the idea of “same destination, different routes.” This is one of the core tenets of a strengths-based perspective -- being able to embrace others in their strengths, regardless of how different they are from our own. This is what allows us to see and support others in life. 

Even though a supermassive black hole, like PDS 456, may make us feel insignificant at times -- when we view the world through a strengths lens, it is easier to see and appreciate our interactions with and the contributions of others. Indeed, strengths magnify our understanding of others’ motivations -- and make us feel grateful that we have relationships with them -- even in a galaxy as infinite and incomprehensible as ours.
Zach Carlsen—Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, Empathy—is the grateful lead blogger at Strengthslife.com. He is a writer and strengths enthusiast in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is always looking to connect with others -- email him at zstrengthslife@gmail.com

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