Think for a minute of all the voices of authority that exist in your life. Your list most likely includes people you trust and admire, books by authors and experts, perhaps religious figures you know. We tend to put our trust (sometimes exclusively) in external authorities.
Many of us were raised to distrust ourselves. We were told that we could easily be deceived or led astray by looking to self. So we often don’t stop to consider internal authorities.
But we should. And here's why.
We actually have some internal voices that offer a great deal of wisdom for how to navigate our life journey with genuine effectiveness. I like to call this our Inside Team. And we neglect this Team at great loss to ourselves.
The team I’m referring to is our top strengths – our natural preferences that our brains are hardwired with. These strengths are some of our greatest personal resources we have. They represent our place of highest energy, joy, effectiveness, and power. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment can help you identify them and help put language and definition to them.
Once you make this discovery, you now have the stewardship opportunity to learn how to leverage and optimize these natural preferences (strengths) that describe who you are and how your brain is wired. These are your superpowers to a life of joyful purpose.
I like to visual these top strengths as my inside team, the Vice Presidents of my life organization with me as the CEO. Though I may have the final say in whatever I’m choosing to do or about any issue or challenge I’m facing at the time, I want to listen to their voices of wisdom. I can call on them individually, requesting their input.
And believe it or not, they will always give specific input. That’s what they’re designed to do. Your brain wants to talk to you and empower you to move forward as strategically as possible. It has compiled all of the knowledge and life experience you've developed through the years. And it wants to channel all this information to the choices and situations you face.
Here’s the truth: each strength has a very nuanced voice of wisdom to give me, no matter what the issue I’m dealing with. Good leadership means calling on those voices and listening.
One of my clients was struggling with a relationship in her team. She wasn’t sure how to approach the person or how to help build a mutually supportive connection. Some previous attempts had not produced any positive change. She was quite frustrated and uncertain.
One of the top strengths of my client is called Self Assurance. It is the capacity to have a genuine confidence in going a particular direction. It contains an inner compass that informs the person of the best path to follow. And they learn to trust it no matter the obstacles. It produces a positive self assurance and confidence that is very influential.
So I said to her, “Let’s focus on your Self Assurance strength right now. Listen to its voice. What does the inner compass want to say to you? What is it’s wisdom on this issue in this moment? What do you hear?”
She paused for a few moments in silence. Then she looked up at me and spoke with great clarity about what her next steps with this colleague should be. No hesitation.
I have experienced this time and again with the people I work with, including myself. When we learn to see our strengths as our Inside Team, our very own personal resources and voices of wisdom, we elevate our capacity to move through challenges and opportunities in our most authentic and transformational way. We are utilizing our brain’s best energy. We are helping to actualize our highest potential.
So why not use your Inside Team? Next time you're faced with a challenge or decision, take your strengths one by one and call on their voices. Ask them for their best wisdom. And then listen carefully. You might be surprised at what opens up to you.
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Image courtesy of istockphoto.com/dima_sidelnikov