I spent the first 40 years of my life focusing on my strengths because I was afraid and ashamed of the “broken” pieces.
We all have these broken pieces in our lives. Mine come from growing up with a parent who was haunted by mental illness and homelessness, grappling with whether to “come out” in my 20s and disappoint the Mormon family who loved (and still loves) me, and a lifelong tendency toward workaholism that in my 30s left me with a great career and absolutely no sense of who I was or who I wanted to be as a person.
What I’ve realized more recently, as I’ve progressed through my corporate career into various leadership positions, is that my differentiating strengths—the capabilities that really set me apart—are the ones I developed because of, not in spite of, my broken pieces. For me, these include strengths like empathy, adaptability, resilience, optimism, and a general sense of how to find solutions in times of uncertainty.
Rather than looking away from my broken pieces, as I used to do, I’ve begun to look toward them. This has allowed me to take a more holistic approach in both my personal life and in my work. By integrating, rather than rejecting, my broken pieces I feel happier, more authentic and more balanced, and I now find pride in places where I previously found shame.
For those of you who see each new year as an opportunity to consider who you are and who you want to be, I encourage you to consider embracing and integrating your toughest times.
· Define your broken pieces
· Ask yourself how they’ve impacted you—how do they shape your views, behaviors, activities, and choices
· Identify at least three strengths you have now that you may not have without these challenging experiences
· Be intentional about using the resulting strengths to accomplish whatever it is you want to achieve in 2019
· Express gratitude for the good that can be found it what would otherwise feel broken
Happy New Year!