This week’s blog is by a new(ish) Co-Women member and somatic strengths coach Sally Domingo-Jones. Sally recently left her corporate role heading up a busy communications team to set up her coaching business. She helps people to recognise their strengths and listen to the wisdom of the body so that they can move from a place of presence and power.
How often in your life have you apologised for being ‘no good with numbers’, ‘bad at public speaking’, ‘terrible at focusing’? You’ll probably all be able to give me an example from the last week where you’ve mumbled out loud, or at least thought about a weakness you have.
We live in a deficit culture with an overemphasis on overcoming weaknesses, or ‘fixing’ things about ourselves so that we can conform to a narrow version of what a successful person ‘should’ look like. If you think back to your school days (a distant memory for me!) report cards were all about what you needed to work on and where you could do better. And many of us have had those annual appraisal meetings at work where five minutes is spent celebrating successes and the next 55 minutes looking at what you don’t do well and need to improve on.
But what if you knew that it didn’t need to be like this? There are many ways to be successful in life and we all have different things that come naturally to us and different ways of achieving our goals. I’m talking about our unique talents that when we use them help to get us into that flow state where we feel completely at ease and time seems to whizz past.
Taking a strengths-based approach to self development is about recognising these natural talents and spending time developing them into strengths so that you can live a life that’s more in tune with your purpose and authentic self. Using our strengths intentionally every day not only makes us feel better but has huge benefits for us both personally and professionally.
Our mind is genius at turning stories into facts. If we feed it full of our perceived weaknesses and keep our attention there, those weaknesses will grow in our mind and become barriers stopping us from accessing our best selves. But if we spend our time thinking about our talents and our energy turning these talents into strengths then we will approach new challenges and opportunities from a place of abundance and confidence.
It is also exhausting to spend the majority of your time weakness-fixing. Think of something you find difficult and imagine trying to do that all day long. And now think of something you love to do and imagine doing that all day - how much happier would you be and how much more of an impact might you have made by the end of the day?
A strengths-based approach to life is also an acknowledgement that we can’t do everything and that’s ok. There is great freedom in being able to say no to something that we won’t do well. We are social beings and by collaborating with others who have different and complementary strengths we can focus on what we do best and the value that we bring to the world.
But sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start. A lifetime of practice has made us accomplished at identifying our weaknesses but are we as confident at talking about our strengths? A good first step is to think about those times when you feel in flow and identify what strengths you are using in those moments. Perhaps you love developing new strategies, coming up with ideas, analysing data, developing others, networking?
Once you’ve thought about some of these flow moments and the strengths you were using, think back through your life and recall when you've seen these strengths in action at other times. It might be that activity that your friends, family or colleagues always turn to you to support with or the thing on your to do list that you always get done first.
When you have found some of these natural talents you can start to explore them and intentionally work on turning them into strengths. A great way of identifying your strengths is through a strengths assessment. I am a Gallup-certified strengths coach and can work with you to understand your individual strengths report and how to use it to unlock your true potential and apply your strengths more successfully in life and work.