Finding my strengths

13 Sep

A friend of mine was talking the other day about the “Now, Discover Your Strengths” book. She asked me what my strengths were. I read that book a few years ago in grad school, and I had forgotten all about. My copy of the book is in my office at work, so today I dug it out and looked at my strengths again. I started thinking about those strengths and what they mean for my everyday life.

Strength #1: Intellection. (Their word, not mine.) It means I like to think, I like mental activity, and I like exercising the muscles of my brain. (Yay, crosswords!) I’m introspective. The introspection can lead to a sense of discontent as I compare what I’m actually doing with the thoughts and ideas my mind conceives. Yes, this all seems accurate: Thinky place, anyone?

Strength #2: Responsibility. It means I force myself to take psychological ownership for anything I commit to and am emotionally bound to see it through to completion. If I can’t deliver, I look for ways to make it up to the other person. I’m conscientious, nearly obsessive about doing things right, have impeccable ethics, and am utterly dependable. Yes, this is true. This strength can also take the form of Catholic guilt.

Strength #3: Input. I am inquisitive, I collect things or information. I keep acquiring information and storing it away because it’s interesting and it keeps my mind fresh. True. Many of my friends say that I notices things that no one else does – especially other people’s behaviors and body language.

Strength #4: Learner. I love to learn; I’m drawn to the process of learning. My excitement to learn leads to adult learning experiences like yoga or grad classes. (Ha! Or dance!) It doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to be an expert in things; it means I just like to learn new things. Very true.

Strength #5: Achiever. I’m driven by a constant need for achievement. Every day starts at zero, and by the end of the day, I must achieve something tangible in order to feel good. No vacations or weekends in this – every day is every day.

I think these strengths explain a lot. Many of them involve my mind and my brain and keeping them active. Yep, I’m a thinker. I also am very responsible and need to get things done. I feel like I need to make things up to people and am always afraid of letting them down. I have incredibly high standards for myself.

So the trick is to use these strengths in a positive way. Yes, I’m an achiever and must accomplish something every day. But I can learn to either accept a smaller accomplishment some days or learn to be OK having one day without an accomplishment. Yes, I’m a thinker. But that doesn’t mean I have to go to the thinky place all the time.

Thinking about these strengths really made me realize that some of these traits are very strong in me. So I should stop trying to fight these things in me and instead just focus on the more positive side of these strengths. Being aware of these strengths and how they can play out negatively in my brain is going to help me a lot as I navigate this life.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

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