Rise Up With Your Strengths

Strengths Categories

One of the strongest of our cultural myths is how we grow in virtue, how we become “strong,” how we develop “strong” people. It goes something like this: unless it’s a struggle before you have achieved it, it really doesn’t mean a lot.

What’s the myth? The myth is that strength and strengths are wrought from suffering. You really have to suffer. Research tells a different story.

Courage is wrought from strengths, and strengths are wrought from knowing what they are, not suffering through life trying to find them. Great men and women have come into their own greatness by circumstances and times that were right for them to grasp their strengths, to rise up and use their strengths.

What if that just happened every day? What if every day, here’s another day for you to grasp your strengths, here’s another day for you to use your strengths. Grow them and develop them. We want you to go use and try what you are naturally good at. That’s very hard to get people to do; it’s very hard to get people to apply that to their life.

The use of strengths, when you really get into using strengths, is intrinsically satisfying. That is what’s called “autotelic,” the simple appreciation and joy of using our own strengths. Strengths are self-reinforcing. But you have to believe that using a strength is going to help you, that it’s going to change you, that it’s going to be effective.

What keeps people who know their strengths from using them and from being in flow?

It is for sure the learned patterns of anxiety, fear, anger, and blaming, as a result of learning and living in our weaknesses and being trained in them before we discovered our strengths. We simply haven’t had as much training and experience with our strengths as we have had with their opposites, our weaknesses.

The most powerful motivator of using a strength is someone outside of us, consistently recognizing the strength in us. That’s what we do as coaches. Second is the intrinsic satisfaction of using the strengths that our clients begin to understand and use. This is the research of Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his work on psychological “flow.”

Suffering in and of itself has defeated more people in trying to find their strengths than it has ever enabled those who have grown from it and accidentally learned what their strengths are in the process. No pain, no gain? How about less needless pain, more positive emotion, more knowledge of strengths?

How about if we get into our minds that strengths and intrinsic satisfaction and flow are stronger motivators than fear and suffering and pain! The growth of strengths and the confidence to use strengths are fostered in an UpSpiral of positive emotion. That’s what we have to create.

Let’s say it again. The growth of strengths and the confidence to use strengths are fostered in an UpSpiral of positive emotion.

© Dr. William K. Larkin 

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin
  • Dr. gloria wright

    It seems to be easy to temporarily lose focus of our strengths when we feel overwhelmed. Oddly enough, that is precisely when we need to shift our focus to our strengths and draw on those to help us direct ourselves into a more positive frame. “It takes a village….”is another aid. We don’t have strengths in all areas, so we can turn to our trusted support system to shore us up.
    The more we know and use our strengths, the more they will develop and become second nature. Knowing your strengths can also be useful in determining what you say yes and/or no to. You don’t want to put me in charge of doing the books or budget, but I can lend a hand in helping delegate, direct, teach or support.
    Do you know your strengths? There are two sources that I use. Rath’s book,“Strength Finder 2.0.” has an excellent inventory. After identifying your strengths, print them onto one page and put them where you can see them every day. Another resource is on the website:
    authentichappiness.org. In the values section, you can take an inventory to give you your strengths. I like to put both sources of strengths on the same page so that they are easy to access.

    Sometimes life can seem like a struggle, but that seems to happen when I’m out of sorts, not using my strengths, and letting fear creep into my thoughts. Practicing thought management, emotion and belief
    management is a way to reduce the anxiety and get me grounded again. Not to over simplify, but it is about creating and maintaining positive habits. We would never dream of going to work or a meeting without brushing our teeth every morning. The same is true about your attitude, thoughts and emotions. They need to be in a positive frame. Every morning and every night, I use the loving-kindness meditation. It could be an asset to add to that ritual, reviewing my strengths and thinking about how I have use them or plan to use them. Play from your strengths – consciously! It makes a difference.

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute