4 Steps When Your Strengths Don’t Feel Like Strengths

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“You’ve done more things well than most have ever tried.”

It feels like I should take that as such a compliment. Yet, instead it hits on a long standing insecurity: I don’t stick with anything.

A “Strength” that Doesn’t Feel Like a Strength

I don’t get a lot of sympathy points for feeling frustrated by doing too many things well. Yet, how could it be that the source of my greatest strength is also what plagues me?

Recently, I made a list of all of the hobbies and interests I have pursued, loved and excelled at. The list was insane. Basketball… Jazz and Concert trumpet… vocals… ceramics… photography… sewing… party planning… card making… cross-fit… yoga… languages…. And it kept going.

The voices in my head are those of friends or coaches or teachers or mentors who singled me out to ask me to lead, deepen my craft or teach others. At each of those points, I took another path. Away from deepening my skills and passion…toward another pursuit or season.

I look back in frustration and — in all honesty — regret.

What if I stuck with one of those passions and pursued it with all my heart, mind, and soul?? Could I not be so much further along in that one space than I am in multiple pursuits today?

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The Source of Frustration is a “Strength”

As much personal reflection as I do {and ask others to do!}, it was really only this past summer than a light bulb went off on this life-long pattern and disappointment.

I am a learner.

I am energized and driven to learn and explore the new. Then, when I have come to a place of not-quite mastery, the drive dissipates, it becomes less exciting, I allow life to distract, and the once central hobby or interest is now relegated to the trophy case.

Ok…so that’s a strength??

I can see its power as I find thrill in learning to put together my own course from top to bottom in-house, in not being intimidated by new technology but instead intrigued and ready, in taking up homeschooling, in a genuine curiosity about people’s stories and input.

But does it have to make me so flighty?? And ultimately, non-committal??

Help Your “Strengths” Feel More Like Strengths

I am in process on this one, but so far this is where I land. By using this 4 step process, I’m refining and adjusting so that my strengths feel more like strengths every day {and not massive liabilities!}.

Reflect

Make an honest assessment of your self critiques. Note exactly what bothers you about your patterns or behaviors and why do they bother you.

Explore your talents and values. Identify overlap with your self-critique. Where could a similar result be good. What could be good about a similar pattern if you saw it in someone else?

Example: This flaky problem bothers me because I’m annoyed that I may have left potential on the table, that I could be father along than I am, and that commitment is a high value for me so I seemed to have failed myself. A similar result could be good when someone is needed to explore a new issue or project and then move on.

Own

Take ownership for the issue or pattern. Admit to yourself {and others if appropriate} that this is truly an ongoing, consistent pattern that you’d like to address.

Put it out on the table and look at the issue as an outside observer. Identify the struggles and the benefits that come with your issue area. Own those and honor those. Identify the parts that are challenging to let go of.

Use a strengths lens instead of a lens of deficit and weakness. {This goes a LONG way!}…assume it is good or could be good.

Example: This is a crazy long pattern in my life. I own the pattern. I attribute it to my drive to learn, and am not sure what to do with it from there.

Adjust

Now it is time to assign value and action. Is the pattern or issue truly disruptive or does it require a perception adjustment.

Ask for feedback from others about the pattern. Identify where it is hindering you and where it is helping you. Decide if the benefits outweigh the costs, and what changes might tip the balance on this equation.

Example: I asked David my husband about the pattern and talked to my book club gals about it. They were all much less concerned about it than I was. And most saw the uniqueness and talent in it. My adjustment was to pay extra attention to the requests of outside folks and make an intentional pivot instead of a mindless wandering away from a new pursuit.

Repeat

Try it out for a while and then go back to the beginning. Reflect. Own. Adjust. Repeat.

In fact, these four steps are the life style of developing a strength — whether or not you feel it gets in the way. Keep reflecting. Keep owning it. Keep adjusting. Keep open.

As you do this, you will turn your natural patterns into intentional strengths that will carry you to mend relationships, achieve your goals, and live your passion — so beautifully and uniquely as only you can do!

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