3 Reasons Why to
Use Your Strengths to Change Your Life
By Anatoli Chernyaev
People who are in trouble often receive the following words of encouragement from their friends or family, “Come on, you are strong. You can do it.”
I often heard these words from my family when I was about to pass yet another history test or take part in another soccer tournament. It was something I was always sure of — I was strong and there was no doubt.
When I was younger, I did not question the credibility of what they were saying. But growing up I wondered how exactly they knew I was strong. Was it just a cliché thing to say to somebody in trouble? Or was it really something they saw in me? I secretly hoped it was the latter, but I had no confidence in my strengths to confirm the trustworthiness of their words.
A couple of years ago I started my own quest of the meaning behind the word strength. Of course, I was eager to prove that I myself was strong but what I found out only confirmed that I knew very little about my own strengths. After trying plenty of personality tests a friend of mine recommended a strengths finder, and the first thing I thought was, “Okay. Yet another personality test. Let’s do it.”
Little did I know at that time that this was going to change my life for good.
Two things I took away from that day was although we use the word strength all the time, we cannot even accurately name our own top strengths. Consequently, we are not able to utilize their whole potential if we do not know what our strengths are.
Looking back at my experience discovering my strengths I decided to share 3 reasons why I think our strengths can change our life by changing ourselves, our work and our relationships.
#1. BY KNOWING AND USING OUR STRENGTHS WE LEARN TO APPRECIATE OURSELVES AND OUR LIFE
Appreciating life takes a fair amount of efforts and resilience. But first of all, it requires self-appreciation before being able to appreciate life. We always hear, “You should learn to love yourself first.” But no one teaches us how to do it.
One thing I found out through my own strengths awareness was that in order to love ourselves we need to know our strengths and be able to use them every day. Surprisingly or not, not even 1 out of 3 individuals can confidently name their top 5 strengths, let alone use those strengths in their life. But apparently, scientific research shows that people who use their strengths at least once a day show higher levels of positivity and mental health. Furthermore, both strengths awareness and strengths use positively influence self-esteem, self-acceptance, and self-confidence.
One of my top 5 strengths was a BELIEVER, which means I have a certain set of values that I am not ready to compromise.
For a very long time I fought against the values I got from my family and friends just because I wanted to create my own values (which, in practice, is not plausible because our values are passed on to us by our family and friends and are then confirmed or rejected by us, so there was no bicycle to invent). My secret to success in life was accepting the values I got from my beloved ones and realizing that those values guide and help me in life and that is something to be grateful for.
So when I embraced my strength as a believer, I became more confident in myself and started to appreciate myself more. It made possible to see and appreciate life differently.
#2. OUR STRENGTHS HELP US FIND PURPOSE AND MEANING IN OUR WORK
I always thought that finding purpose in work was not something easily attainable. I continuously saw it as a constant pursuit of something meaningful but was always skeptical about achieving it.
When I started exploring my strengths and their usage, I realized that purpose should not necessarily be unachievable. On the contrary, purpose can be found in doing things we enjoy and value most, which is directly linked to using our strengths.
Another strength of mine appeared to be a COACH — somebody with a strong belief that every person has the potential for development. Some people always told me I was too optimistic about others, whereas what I was doing was seeing their potential and trying to develop it. When I embraced this strength and put it into practice in my job by coaching younger colleagues and interns that had just arrived, I started to enjoy every single moment spent at work. I knew I was doing something meaningful for me.
Turn your strength into your personal purpose at work and it will give you endless motivation because you will be doing what you are good at and what you value most.
#3. OWNING OUR STRENGTHS HELPS US BUILD STRONGER RELATIONSHIPS
Knowing our strengths means knowing ourselves better. But it takes utilizing our strengths to become really happy with our life. Research shows that if an individual feels happier, relationships tend to strive too.
I always knew it was valid only in a work environment where each member of a team utilizes their strengths to build stronger ties within a team, i.e. each person brings to the table something they are good at. But the same logic can be applied to any type of a relationship such as family relationships, friendships, and love relationships.
It was the good mixture of a DELIVERER and an OPTIMIST that I started to use in my relationships with my family, friends and my spouse. Being emotionally bound to follow through on all promises (a.k.a. Deliverer) and bringing a positive spirit to any situation (a.k.a. Optimist) helped me go through some of the hardest moments in my life and build even stronger ties with people I cared about.
When you own your strengths and you know the strengths of others, it helps you better understand relationship dynamics. By doing so you can make it work best for you by leveraging the greatest qualities of each party.
Although we talk a lot about strengths, they are usually underrated in our life.
For a long time, my family and I talked about my strengths without really knowing what they were. Today, I can define my strengths and use them which helps me be a better person for myself, my family and my colleagues.In case you want to know more about achieving confidence, take a look at this article about building confidence by using your strengths.