Hello, my people. I hope we are all staying strong and healthy – mentally, physically, and all-round. COVID-19 and its resultant effects are still with us so please remember to wear a mask once you are leaving your home; and protect your emotions in these times.
Like joke, like joke; October is upon us with about 80 days to the start of the new year. To everyone reading this, please don’t wait for the right time to do that thing you planned for at the beginning of 2020. I know that COVID-19 happened and violently flung some of our plans out of the window but what matters is that we keep making progress. Put one foot in front of the other, move, make progress, consider new pathways, learn new skills, do what you must but please don’t give up. Everyday is an opportunity for a miracle.
Today’s conversation is about shifting focus from our weaknesses to our strengths; and moving into living in our strengths zone. I know you may be thinking, “Well, I don’t focus on my weaknesses”. You may be right – or wrong. You may be like some of us who were told to stop talking because we talk too much, or stop drawing everywhere and we gave up the habit; or asked why you’re so extra, or why you’re always so excited; or called naïve because you consistently dwell on the positive sides of life, or too emotional because you easily feel other people’s pains and burdens, etc.
This is a public service announcement declaring that you are perfect. Nothing is wrong with you! You and those around you were clearly unaware of your strengths and how to maximize them. To the fellow described as too emotional, empathy is a strength; the one called “efiwe” (meaning overtly studious in our local Nigerian lingo); learning may just be your strength; to you who’s action oriented, you may just be an activator.
There’s a whole gamut of strengths; so first, throw away that thought that you need to be more like someone else. You are enough, capacitated and hardwired for success in your own special way! Can I hear an AMEN!
That said, let me summarize my strength journey to-date. I’m on a personal adventure to rediscovering myself. I came across an Instagram post by my mentor in August, titled, “Unleash Your Superpowers”. Of course, I was interested because first, my mentor was the organizer; but then, the title also piqued my curiosity; I mean who doesn’t want superpowers? Before the session, we were required to do a ‘Strengths Assessment’ which I did willingly and guzzled up the required readings because it was so insightful. At the session, my insights doubled as the facilitators talked about the various strengths in the assessment and how they played up in us crafting our personal narratives, family lives, careers, relationships, etc. I was intoxicated with this new knowledge. For me, it was beyond the concepts; it was light on my scantily illuminated path of adventure. So, off I went! I was determined to explore this new paradigm and give it a shot.
You see, over the course of my adult life, I have done a series of personality tests trying to understand my strengths, gifts, etc. so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that the traits that made me quirky were strengths. It was like someone had handed me an authorization document to live unashamed because the traits I had tried to adjust, downplay or hide were my ticket to living a full life. If you’ve ever felt that way, please take an e-hug! You are just fine; all you need to do is identify and understand your strengths; and live in them. I found that “learning, developing, responsibility, deliberation, and belief” were my top 5 strengths. Understanding what they meant and how I could apply them, reassured me that I was capacitated to execute certain tasks, consider new career paths and, even enlightened me with practical steps to mitigate my weaknesses. One of which for me is to collaborate with people with complementary strengths. I hope you can sense my excitement and glee as you read these words. People, God had hardwired me for the success I had dreamt of.
I honestly recommend the Gallup Strengths Assessment for everyone reading this as well as the webinar earlier mentioned because the session helped translate the concepts into practical and usable knowledge. This isn’t a marketing campaign in any way, I am only sharing resources I have found useful in keeping with my promise of growing together.
What has the resultant effect been?
Oh! It’s been mind-blowing! *Inserts fire emoticon*
For one, I have better understood myself. I’m no longer trying to do things and failing woefully at it. My approach has changed to simply align my goals to one or more of my strengths. In doing this, it has become less tedious to achieve my goals significantly increasing my personal productivity. It has also helped me understand my “value”. Oh, how I wish I could insert a dance move here. See, I’m no longer wondering what value I’m bringing to the table, I know it because I know my strengths!
Secondly, my energies are more focused and in turn, I am less overwhelmed and exhausted. People, I can tell you that I have achieved things I didn’t think about because I didn’t think I could do them. My mind is more open to opportunities and I’m more able to maximize them because they are aligned to my strengths. I invest my time doing the things critical to my success.
Thirdly, my confidence has increased. Perhaps I should have said this first. You should see my face when someone asks if I can do a task that aligns with my strengths. My shoulders square up, my heart swells with pride and I give my most convincing smile with a firm and resounding ‘yes, of course’.
Let me just stop at these three! If you haven’t made up your mind after this to discover your strengths, then please don’t say I didn’t share any tips with you! You have been resourced. Don’t dull, don’t let world people (Nigerian lingo) limit your shine, don’t settle for less than God’s best for you.
My people live in your strengths! You will have so many seemingly effortless victories. It is just so A-MA-ZING!
You are loved, valued and enough!
Written by Chiamaka Ige