The importance of knowing our personal strengths

There is good reason to ask about personal strengths in coaching.  It makes sense to use and develop these to influence our next actions as we move towards our goals and what we want in life, but for me that is not the only reason.

We are all capable, skilled and resourceful.  Yet people are often silent when I enquire curiously “Tell me about your strengths, the things that you do well in this situation.”

It seems to me that when we lose sight of our personal strengths (or become disconnected from them) other people can often appear to be stronger, better or more skilled.  As our focus of attention is grabbed by ‘better than’ we begin to feel ‘less than’, deskilled and at worse useless.

If this is you (or not), how about trying an exercise.  

Even when we are tired, overwhelmed or just don’t know what to do next we can gently move our focus back to our more resourceful self.  One way to start this process is to become sensitive to our strengths and what we do well.

Reflect on your every day experiences, what has happened in the last hour, what has happened in the last 24 hours.

Choose one and spend five minutes considering:

  • What one thing went well?
  • What actually happened, what did I do?
  • What skills, experiences, knowledge, resources, insights and/or personal attributes did I bring to the situation?
  • What would make it even better next time?

That’s it.  You could jot your reflections down in a note book if it helps.  Do this exercise every day for a week and see what happens.  Drop me an email, I’d love to hear.

Dr Chris Johnstone (who I’ve recently undertaken some resilience training with) talks about “hunting the good stuff” and “strength spotting”.

Being aware of our strengths helps us build resilience or bounce-back and this is important when we are finding the going tough.  But just as importantly it also reconnects us with our sense of self, who we are and what we want.

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