Letters of Life

That Which Makes You Strong


~ Growing your strengths tethers you to a better self-image and confidence. (Image by lovestruck. via Flickr)

A strength is “an activity that makes you feel strong.” It is an activity where the doing of it invigorates you. Before you do it, you find yourself instinctively looking forward to it. While you are doing it you don’t struggle to concentrate, but instead you become so immersed that time speeds up and you lose yourself in the present moment. And after you are finished doing it, you feel authentic, connected to the best parts of who you really are. — Marcus Buckingham, author best known for promoting what he calls ‘strengths.’

Whatever gives you joy in doing, that is your strength. So, what do you enjoy doing?

I’m fortunate that my youthful interests — in writing, in fashion and design, — turned into something I did professionally for a while. That brought me closer to my favourite things by offering a different perspective; I was at the supply side, writing news or feature stories which were read by people I did not know, or putting together fashion stories for women who followed trends and style.

Strengths can be abstract. I know someone who enjoys problem-solving for others. He likes analysing different aspects of a problem, it could be physical even, and he’ll come up with a few ideas in a very short time. It’s a good thing he does this in his job, because that means he gets a great deal of job satisfaction. There’s nothing better than being paid for what you love doing. On most days.

What do you enjoy doing? What invigorates you?

Sometimes new experiences or new habits can turn into a strength. I’m testing this out when it comes to running.

Take today. I got up at six in the morning so I could run before the sun burned the coolness of morning away. But it was raining. I waited an hour in bed, not willing to go back to sleep, and when it lightened considerably, I started out. It was the first time I’d run on a Sunday, before church. It felt great.

What do you do instinctively? Like you can’t help it?

Maybe it’s guessing what ingredients go into a new dish. That’s a creative spirit in the kitchen perhaps.

When you’re down and you need to pick yourself up, what do you turn to (besides a friend, the Internet, passive stuff) to make yourself feel right?

Knowing your strengths, playing down your weaknesses, helps you get through the mundane and tedious moments in life. Somewhere in your strengths is part of who you are, your identity. This, in a good way. When you know who you are, and what you’re made of, then your message to the world around you becomes clearer, well-defined.

A well-defined message helps you make better connections with the people you influence already and those you will influence in the days to come.

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