Last week I wrote–what you could call part one of a 2-part series on strengths–a post on knowing your strengths. I dove a little into the importance of knowing your own strengths (and, for that matter, weaknesses).
Here’s some further food for thought.
The reason I take tests that show aptitude, strength, and intelligence is because I want to understand myself as best as I can. After all, as the saying goes: ‘You can’t love others until you learn how to love yourself.’
But, how do we learn to love ourselves? Well, for starters, we need to learn who we are in the first place. What are your strengths?
Start with the obvious.
For me, it’s pretty clear that I have a strength in musical ability. I am a decent singer, and I pick up other instruments fairly quickly. I intuitively understand harmony and rhythm, and totally geeked out in my music theory classes in college. It’s easy for me to admit that I have a strength – a gift – in music. Great.
What is an obvious gift that you have? For my sister, it’s baking. She makes my mom jealous with the cookies she bakes! For my father, it’s pure work ethic. I’ve never seen anyone work so hard for anything as my father has. For my wife, it’s people. She just has a natural, obvious talent for winning people over. For you, maybe it’s sports… or writing… or painting… or sales… or whatever.
Everyone has at least one obvious gift. But what’s more fascinating to me are the gifts that are less visible, but more definitive.
Learn what your core strengths are.
Last week, I wrote a little about the Strengthfinders 2.0 assessment. If you didn’t get a chance to read that post yet, check it out. Basically, by taking the test, I was able to discover what my intuitive strengths are. Out of 34 possible strengths, my top five were, in order: Futuristic, Ideation, Activator, Communication, Command. Now, I do want to touch on each strength a little, but here’s a summary of how I perceive them to fit together:
I have a keen sense for being able to (for lack of a better term) predict the potential of the future (futuristic). I then will come up with ways to achieve that potential, as well as the first steps in achieving that potential (Ideation & Activator). Once I know what the first steps will look like, what the potential is, and how to get there – I package it all up in a presentable form and help others understand the potential, and how to get there (communication). Finally, I provoke a sense of urgency in people to get things done, working towards the realization of that potential (command).
That may look or sound silly to you, but to me it was a revelation. I finally felt comfortable with some of my tendencies. For example, I have always been a dreamer. Some people don’t understand or appreciate the fact that I’m always – and I mean ALWAYS – thinking about the future. I don’t have a 5-year plan; I have a 20-year plan (okay, probably not really… but you get my point). In some cases, people would discourage me from dreaming about the future so much. But what was really going on is that they simply did not understand me.
Have you ever felt misunderstood?
I sure have, and it sucks. But, when you can learn to understand who you are, and what you’re good at, and what your strengths are, and what your tendencies are, and what your gifts are – then you will have more confidence to love yourself, and ultimately be better suited to love others.
And, for those of you wondering, here’s a little more detail into each of my top-five:
- Futuristic: As if it were projected on the wall, I see in detail what the future might hold, and this detailed picture keeps pulling me forward, into tomorrow. (source)
- Ideation: I am delighted when I discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. (source)
- Activator: I may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down I know that only action is real. (source)
- Communication: I feel the need to bring static events to life, to energize them, to make them exciting and vivid, so I turn them into stories and enliven them with images and examples and metaphors. (source)
- Command: Unlike some people, I feel no discomfort with imposing my views on others. On the contrary, once my opinion is formed, I need to share it with others. (source)
The best part about taking tests like this, and other personality tests, is that they are not perfect. They merely represent one particular lens to view your life through. And even then, you have the ability to interpret your findings, and have your friends and family help you. No one person has the same unique set of strengths. No one person has the same unique personality. You are unique.
In fact, that’s how God created us…
That was his intent. Check this scripture out, from Psalm 139, found in The Message:
“13 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. 14 I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration-what a creation! 15 You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” (source)
That doesn’t need much explanation except to say that God obviously cares for His children – you and me. He put a lot of thought and effort into our creation.