Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to give a talk on strengths to an amazing group of people. I spoke at the Job Seekers’ Garden Club of St. Louis career event. The Job Seekers’ Garden Club started as a networking group last year when many people lost their jobs. Now they are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and they bring together job seekers, recruiters, and connectors in the St. Louis metro area. Their mission is to get people back to the careers they love. It was an honor to be part of this mission and to share my thoughts as well as some well-known research findings on the importance of identifying and developing our strengths.
As I prepared for the talk, I thought a lot about how I have learned to use my own strengths better. There is one example that ALWAYS comes to my mind and I shared it with this group, as well.
The example is, funny enough, about public speaking.
I like that example because it is so relevant to so many people. For some reason, so many of us consider public speaking to be a weakness. Maybe it is because we so easily start comparing ourselves to other people. And it is easy to see great public speakers everywhere! Or maybe it’s because public speaking is a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable or nervous. Either way, so many of us consider it something that we are not very good at and don’t enjoy doing, a weakness.
When we consider something to be a weakness, what most of us will do is practice. Perhaps we look for more opportunities to do public speaking, perhaps we take classes on body language, or perhaps we rehearse in front of our family. Practicing of course helps and eventually we become better. However, if we still see public speaking as a weakness, we probably won’t enjoy the situation much and our results are average.
Therefore, it can be helpful to turn to our strengths. For example, if you find it easy to connect with people and understand their emotions, use your Social Intelligence to build a connection with your audience. Or if you love making others laugh, use your Humor to make the presentation more amusing to your audience AND to yourself.
When we shift our focus on using our strengths, things become easier, more fun, and our results change. We are no longer focusing on something we perceive a weakness because using our strengths makes us feel engaged and energized. Our strengths make us the best versions of ourselves.
Can you think of a situation that you have turned around by focusing on your strengths?