I do a lot of coaching with individuals, groups, businesses, teams, churches around the issue of strengths (utilizing the results they get from taking the online StrengthsFinder). What are your top strengths? How are you using them? What are the shadow sides of each of your strengths and how can you manage those shadow sides? How can you use your strengths more intentionally, consciously, and competently?
How Strengths Work Increases Well-being
I love doing this strengths work with people because I’ve seen that when people tap into their strengths more deeply and consciously, their ability to live a more productive and fulfilling life at work, in relationships, and even in spirituality radically increases. In fact, research shows that people who more often than not lead with their strengths are six times more meaningfully engaged in their life circumstances and they experience a three times higher sense of overall well being in life.
Who wouldn’t want those kind of odds?
I’m noticing more and more that when people begin this exploration, increasing their understanding of how they’re wired and what their innate talents are, they are in fact coming face to face with who they really are and who they are truly designed to be. And that is a profoundly spiritual experience.
Why Strengths Work Is Spiritual
One of the descriptions of spirituality I appreciate is this: “The intentional journey of becoming more whole, more fully alive, and more deeply human which results in authentic and meaningful connections with self, others, and the transcendent.”
The more in-tune we are with who we are, the more in alignment we are with how we are each designed and wired, the deeper and more authentic and meaningful our connections are to others and even to God.
One of the early Church fathers, Irenaeus, wrote,
“The glory of God is man fully alive.”
Think about that for a minute. God’s glory is heightened and made more evident when people are living fully alive. God’s glory is shown, not when we constrict our lives or other people’s live, not when we narrow our lives down, but rather when we expand our lives, when we increase our aliveness, when we alignment our lives to who we were made to be and to learn to live that way with more abandon and confidence and courage.
And that’s exactly what happens when people tap into their strengths more consciously and competently. They become more uniquely fully alive—they become more of their true selves, as God designed them. Living out our strengths is one of the most significant ways we uniquely manifest the image of God in each one of us.
God is definitely not into the “cookie-cutter” approach to life. All you have to do to see that is to open your eyes and behold—to pay attention and to notice—the profound and immense and rich diversity that exists in this world.
Some Strategic Strengths Questions I Use With Clients
I have the sacred privilege as a strengths coach to be a front-row witness to this wonderful diversity with every person and group I do this work with. I always am in awe of how beautiful and unique every person is. And that individual beauty I see only grows and deepens as people come to embrace their unique strengths profile and learn to live it more consciously and effectively day after day.
So here are some of the questions I assist people in exploring and processing about their strengths:
- How have you seen yourself using each of your top strengths? Give specific examples. Describe how you felt when you were engaged in that activity/behavior.
- What have you noticed is the shadow side of each strength? What is your specific negative tendency with each strength at times? For example, if your strength is Empathy, do you ever find yourself getting too emotionally involved in people? Do you take on their feelings so deeply that you can’t seem to let them go, to separate yourself from their feelings, so you can begin to feel exhausted, burned out. Their negative or painful feelings you start to take on yourself? Give specific examples of how you have manifested the shadow side of your strengths.
- How have you noticed your strengths playing out in your relationships? Give some specific examples. For instance, if you have Adaptability, do you tend to wait until the last minute to plan an activity with your significant other? Do you prefer not to structure or plan something but to let it come to you or simply go with the flow? How does your strength(s) impact your significant relationship?
- What is the strengths profile of your significant relationship? How do your top five individual strengths react together as a couple? Where are you both strong? How does that reveal itself in how your relationship shows up in the world? What do people experience in the presence of your relational strengths profile?
- Develop some specific, tangible goals for how you can increase the use of each one of your top strengths in the major life areas: work, relationships, spirituality.
- What are deficiencies in your strengths profile that you need to consider bringing other people with complementary strengths into your life? How can you partner or collaborate with people who bring strengths you don’t have so you can be more productive and effective?
I typically go on a 12 session, 3 month journey with the people who want to really dig deep into putting their strengths to work in their lives. And I can tell you, it’s a hugely rewarding, satisfying, transforming experience. They all tell me how life changing it is. And the more I do it, the more life changing it is for me, as well.
How Strengths Work Impacts Organizations and Congregations
I also do strengths work with congregations and other organizations. Once people begin to understand the role their strengths can play in their personal lives, this new awareness carries over into their actions within the organizational mission. When we take a look at which of everyone’s top strengths are most represented—based upon everyone’s test results—that corporate strengths profile delivers some astounding and powerful implications for how the whole group is designed to be at their strongest in the way they serve their constituents and communities. Effective mission and productive service grow exponentially. And people who serve in those groups experience a much higher level of engagement and fulfillment than ever before.
So in the end of life—whatever your view about how that happens in terms of divine accountability for your life—what’s true is this:
God will not ask you why you weren’t more like someone else. God’s only question to you will be, What did you do with what you were given? Did you steward your Self as deeply, passionately, and faithfully as you could? Were you your own true Self?
This is one of the reasons I think strengths work is so spiritually significant—and why I believe in knowing my strengths and using them as courageously and actively as I can. It’s about being the only Me that really counts in the end; and the only Me that truly brings me fulfillment, purpose, and joy.
Want to Know More?
Would you like to know more about this process? Feel free to email me: email@example.com. I’d be happy to give you more perspective. Would you like to engage in strengths coaching with me? Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.