If you were asked, ”What are your strengths,” what would your response be? Many of us would have an easier time listing our weaknesses. Try it. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Label one side “My Strengths” and the other “My Weaknesses.” Spend a few minutes listing the things that come to mind under each category. I hope you are totally honest. No one needs to ever see this list but you. I have done this exercise a number of times in my life. I find, each time, that I can generate a long list of weaknesses. My list of strengths is always much shorter and more tenuous than definite. In fact, I find myself crossing out or dismissing a number of things from that list as things I wish were true about myself rather than things I actually accept as strengths. This may or may or may not be true for you. It is for many people I have asked to do this exercise over the years.
Why is this? What makes it easier to list things we see in ourselves as weaknesses than strengths? While the goal of this exercise is not to become egomaniacs, totally absorbed in ourselves, it can be the starting point for honestly looking at our strengths as the potential with which we can begin to make some of the things that can lead us to happiness and fulfillment in life.
One good place to begin this search is to think of the people in your life who are or who have been supportive and encouraging to you. Hopefully you have or have had many such people in your life. Even if the number of people who have encouraged you is small, add the things they have said about you to your list of strengths.
Your list of strengths should also include the things you enjoy doing, and the things you do well. Nothing is too small or insignificant to be included on that list. Include things you would really like to do if you only had the knowledge or experience to do them. These are strengths because the desire to do them is a strong incentive to achieve the desired outcome from the activity.
You may include things you were forced to learn and do. Ask yourself if any of these things gave you the tools to develop a skill that brings you satisfaction. I know people who will tell you they are surprised that developing skill in something they did not at first think interested them led to something meaningful and rewarding in their lives. A common example of this is someone who was forced to endure seemingly endless of music lessons and practice only to discover how this skill later led to very meaningful experiences as they shared their musical talents with people in various settings.
Ask people in your life now what they think are your strengths. You may be surprised that something you have taken for granted about yourself is seen as a strength by someone else. Ultimately, the information you gather about your strengths can be your springboard to new and exciting things you have yet to discover in your life. As we move forward, enjoy the journey of identifying, assessing and developing your strengths. You do have many.If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
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