2020 is going to be a year to make it into history books! This article will give some insight into how you can best use your strengths in a challenging time. Although we are all in the same coronavirus storm, we are not all in the same boat and what we experience will be different.
If you are feeling out of your comfort zone and in the stretched and challenged (growth) zone, read on! The future remains uncertain, however there are things we can intentionally practice to remain anchored and rise stronger. This includes looking after our own well-being and intentionally using our personal strengths, maybe even in new ways.
I hope this article helps you identify, recognise, appreciate and value the strengths you already have as a resource to draw from. I’ll explain what strengths are, ways to identify them and practical ways to apply your strengths.
Examples of strengths: empathy, courage, hope, leadership, developer, connectedness, belief, focus, perspective, kindness, humour, responsibility, communication, gratitude, learner, context, consistency. When using one of your strengths you get a “buzz”, feel motivated and confident.
What are strengths? Strengths are your thoughts, feelings and actions that come naturally to you – this is where your greatest potential lies! Strengths are innate traits and talents, using them energises you – they are your fuel. You have a unique combination of strengths to be celebrated. Utilising them enables you to put the best of who you are into any situation.
⚓ Strengths act as an anchor, provide a sense of direction and help you navigate the path ahead. Life can quickly change, but who you are and what you naturally do well doesn’t change.
Let your strengths show up in your new normal. In times of change and uncertainty lean into different strengths, according to what you need.
There are several ways to identify your strengths:
• CliftonStrengths Top 5 assessment (Strengths Finder 2.0 on Amazon or www.gallup.com)
- VIA Character strengths (https://www.viacharacter.org free online survey)
• Asking for feedback from people who know you well and have seen you thriving (“What strengths of mine have you seen in action?”)
• Self reflection.
Strengths reflect who you are – at your core
Identify your top 5 strengths:
Previously how have you used your top strengths to help you?
Read about each of your top strengths to begin fully utilising them.
Which strength do you want to use more?
How will you use it in a new way?
Embrace your strengths daily. For one day / week focus on using one of your strengths at a time.
Regardless of your combination of strengths, to boost wellbeing it is essential to replenish, connect and create at this time. Consider how you can use your strengths to do each of these.
Time to Replenish
Cultivate moments to rest, relax and pause. Living in lockdown and working from home doesn’t mean we don’t need regular breaks. We have all been flooded with numerous changes and at times you may have felt overwhelmed with high levels of adrenalin, emotions, stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. Our central nervous system needs time to relax!
Embrace a consistent rhythm of rest. Rest restores and recharges us. Restoration replenishes us physically, fortifies our mental wellbeing, enabling us to engage emotionally.
Do you need to give yourself permission to stop and rest?
Next time you find yourself hurrying from one task to the next throughout the day without breathing space or time to rest in between, press pause and take a break!
Practice stopping! – take a “pause”
Stop and exhale – take a few deep breaths.
Relax and drop your shoulders and your ‘shoulds’. It’s easy to get stuck thinking in terms of what you “should” do. Be analytical – ask yourself, do I need / want to do this, or do I feel I should? Ask: which of my strengths can I use to help me do what I need to do?
Going for a walk can be helpful if you need to clear your mind.
Use the ‘adaptability’ strength – adjust your schedule if needed.
Simplify! Write down 3 priorities, focus on what matters most to you.
Taking a mental break helps your brain piece everything happening together to bring clarity, problem solve and make good decisions (drawing on the ‘strategic’ strength).
Just as our body needs rest, sleep and nourishment, our soul needs it too. Rest isn’t only about watching Netflix, but doing something to bring replenishment to your mind, body and soul.
What do I need today?
How am I currently prioritising rest and replenishment?
What brings me joy? What will I do today simply because I enjoy it?
How am I nourishing myself? Are my sleep, exercise and nutrition habits helping me?
Humour is a character strength and laughter the best medicine! What makes me smile?
How will I prioritise laughter? At the end of the day you may choose to write down 3 funny things you remember and let yourself laugh about it again!
Time to connect
Connection recharges us. Connectedness is a strength. Consistently schedule time to connect. As we establish a rhythm of rest we naturally move to a rhythm of connection. Once we have received what we need, we can give from a full cup – not an empty one.
There are a number of ways to connect.
Connect with yourself: identify your needs, feelings, strengths and core values. You may find it helpful to write these down, journal or chat with someone.
Connect with others: social connection and support.
Who lifts my spirits? Which friend will I message to arrange a time to talk? (Investing in empathy, communication and relator strengths).
Are you part of an online community group? Or could you join one?
Identify an act of kindness you could do in your community.
Connect with nature: Appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, in rural and urban spaces. Walk with gratitude. I am grateful for ________ because _________.
Stop scrolling (disconnect) and start strolling (connection). Walking in nature enables you to think outside the box, get fresh air and clear your mind. This helps open up new ways of thinking, possibilities and creativity.
Some people find it helpful to draw on faith and Connect with God (two strengths people may have are belief and connectedness). Just pausing to be still can help to feel calm, some find prayer or meditation helpful, to find a sense of peace, hope and perspective.
Daily connection activation
Have I connected in a meaningful / purposeful way?
If not, what is one way I will prioritise connection tomorrow?
Do I need to disconnect from anything? E.g. my phone / screens for an evening / day a week?
Do I need to create a technology free zone at home?
Am I experiencing ‘Zoom exhaustion’?! What changes can I make?
Time to Create
When we have replenished, rested and started reaping the benefits of connection, we have optimal conditions to be creative. We get to use our strengths, talents and passions and be creative.
Having “normal life” stop unexpectedly can create questions about how and why we live the way we do. Do you find yourself waiting and thinking about when life might return to “normal”?
Create time and space to reflect, when you feel ready, be strategic – look at the bigger picture and think about what matters to you most. Which of your strengths can help you do this?
You may even find it helpful to create a deliberate ‘To don’t list’ e.g. try to please everyone, say “yes” without thought, ignoring my needs, put off having fun / being creative, hurry, forgetting to rest and what’s most important, worry.
There’s a famous quote, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it, what the world needs is people who have come alive” (Howard Thurman).
Creating the way forward with purpose and vision
What have I learnt in this season? (Consider using your developer, learner, maximiser strengths).
What will I choose to walk out of this season holding on to?
With so much change, your strengths act as an anchor and you can draw on them in any situation. I hope in the midst of this global crisis, you can find some time to use your strengths to invest in yourself, to replenish, connect and create the best route forward for you, reflecting who you are and supporting your well-being.
CORE Coaching and Training
Certified Strengths Coach
Personal and Executive Coach
I coach individuals, couples, teams, leaders and managers to support and empower them to
Cultivate, Optimise, Replenish and Explore their strengths, wellbeing and purpose – releasing them to reach their full potential.