Use Your Strengths to Move You Forward


The last few months have been a whirlwind for me.  A move across the country, settling down in a new location, and figuring out the lay of the land has been a bit discombobulating. 

However, be that as it may, I tend to thrive and welcome change.  Not everyone does and that’s cool. It’s a strength for me and I’ve learned over the years to use it to my advantage.

Speaking of strengths and using them to your advantage, I’m currently getting certified as a Positive Psychology coach and geeking out on all the amazing information I’ve been learning these past few months. 

Positive psychology is not, as most people believe, simply focusing on the positive.  It’s more dynamic and deeper than focusing solely on gratitude and happiness.  It’s about noticing what goes right with people rather than what goes wrong.  It’s about spotting people’s strengths and helping them use their particular strengths to solve a current problem they are struggling with.

Lately, I’ve been implementing some of these interventions into my coaching practice and the results have been transformative.

My instructor, Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener, well-known in the field of positive psychology, shared with us a power metaphor describing a sailboat and how it relates to using our strengths and weaknesses.

Picture a sailboat that has a couple of cracks and has taken on some water.  Depending on the amount of water, the boat can list to one side or if it takes on too much water the boat will eventually sink.

Weaknesses, like cracks in a sailboat, can affect your performance and if left unattended can sink you.  Not good!

Sure you can patch up your boat and put it in the water, but all that is going to do is keep you from sinking.  Yes, you’re buoyant, but you’re not moving. 

Now consider the sails.  The sails are your strengths.  And just like you would adjust your sails to take advantage of the wind conditions, you adjust and use your strengths to move you forward towards your goals.

Most people seek out coaching because they want to work on their weaknesses.  It’s this belief that if we work on our weaknesses we will become better people.  Ask them about their strengths and they tend to dismiss them, “Oh that, that’s not a big deal.”  I’m here to tell you that it is a big deal.  Your strengths are unique to you and guess what, you are naturally good at using them. 

If your weaknesses are sinking you, then yes, do what you have to do to stop you from sinking.  However, I encourage you to unfold your sails and start using your strengths to move you forward in your career, relationships, or life in general.

If you’re interested in finding out about your personal strengths, there’s a free assessment called the VIA (Values in Action) Survey which takes about 15 minutes to complete.  Go to the Authentic Happiness website from UPenn and simply register to take the survey. 

Again, it’s free and it will show you what your 5 top strengths are that can aid you in reaching your goals.  Look for ways to implement these strengths into your life regularly and watch how your life takes off from there.

Bon Voyage!

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