To be strong and self-sufficient is a good thing. However, to be strong in relationship with others is even more powerful. If there is a lesson in life that I have had to learn it’s the power of leaning into others who have complimentary and diverse strengths.
Early in life I received subtle yet powerful messages telling me to be self-sufficient and independent. To rely on others was to be weak. It would also lead to being disappointed. I was told to basically “fake it ‘til you make it.” I became highly competent in this approach to life and leadership. I became lonely. I also started to get really tired.
For the last eight years I’ve been doing significant work around strengths. The model is built on the notion of know, develop and amplify your natural talents so they become distinctive strengths. It also advocates learning how to embrace and manage your weaknesses, primarily by learning how to partner with others with complementary strengths. This notion is simple in concept and yet one of the most edgy to apply. The world tells us to be competent at a lot of things. It also tells us to hide our vulnerabilities or weaknesses. While the logical mind knows partnering and sharing strengths makes total sense, the emotional brain resist’s us leaning into others because you could be perceived as weak or that you are not competent or good enough.
The first and most important step to strengths based leadership and living is to fully appreciate and value your own strengths. It’s a funny thing though – when something comes easy we value it less. While working with clients around their strengths, I try to help them connect with the energy and flow that exists when they are in their strengths. Life is easier. There is a flow and authentic engagement in things that makes work seem like play. Until people are able to value that this state of being is not just easy but that it’s how they add the greatest value, it’s hard for them to see the unique and distinctive contribution they are making.
So, before you consider learning how to partner to maximize your own strengths, it is critically important to spend time on appreciating and valuing your own strengths. Then, and only then, you are well positioned to start exploring the strengths of others and discovering whom your ideal strengths partners are.
It may be easiest to collaborate with people who are like us and yet that can be limiting. When the world says opposites attracts, its definitively true in the world of strengths. To achieve our greatest range and potential, creating collaborative and trusted relationships with others who are different from us is how we tap into our greatest potential.
Remember, I’m a recovering independent so this message is coming from my heart and after years of learning to walk this talk. I am so blessed to have learned that my strengths shine best when I value them and when I partner with others who are distinctively different. Today, I am pleased to say I have a core group of colleagues who I collaborate with that represent an amazing diversity of talents and strengths. Life feels way more creative, expansive, fun and thankfully, so much less lonely.
If you want to explore strengths based living and leadership start by getting StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Do your strengths assessment, learn your top five and create a purposeful development plan to maximize and value your own strengths. Then, connect out to others with diverse strengths. Magic will happen.
NOTE: At Horizon Leadership we apply the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment with all our coaching clients – individuals and teams. If you’d like to learn more about strengths based development coaching programs please contact us.