It’s all about my strengths, isn’t it or is it?

“So how many strengths make me strong?’ One of my coachees posed this question last week as were working through her responses to a strengths based psychometric. As I reflected after the session, it got me thinking about the benefits but also the pressure we might put ourselves under to be more than we are, especially in a world where needing to be more, have more, get more is increasingly expected and important.

As a coach, one of my fundamental beliefs is about the power of understanding and leveraging strengths. I have long since explored the power of a strengths focus believing in the relationship between strengths, engagement and performance. But the question posed my coachee is not uncommon. Focus on strengths can be uplifting, motivating and exciting but in a world we seem to need to be more than we are , maybe this it causes people to be even tougher on themselves and unnecessarily worried that we are not as good as we should be?

What about.. Here’s who I am and I am going to make the most of it!

I do believe that making the most of all that we are is enhanced by reflection, feedback and insight. I do believe that knowing the good things about ourselves and feeling confident about those traits is powerful. Coaching can play a very helpful role in this. But, I also think we have an individual and collective responsibility to help each other simply be who we are because most of us (bar a few “baddies,” as my youngest calls them) are pretty amazing!  Human beings are incredible. We are strong, innovative and we have so much capability.

So when I am working with psychometrics, such as strengths finder and helping others to understand more about themselves, I know I how important it is to encourage coaches to feel great about themselves and leverage all that brilliance, even if they don’t fully agree with what’s in the report. Psychometrics tools have a fabulous role to play in creating insights but we must remember that assessments tools are by design limited to the what they are assessing.  As an example,regardless of the number of strengths in the strengths finder, the assessment has limitations because it seems that human strengths run into the hundreds and maybe more.  So the danger is we assess and are assessed on a limited number of preselected strengths and then receive feedback based on that limited number.

So how many strengths makes me strong? I guess the answer is…’s as many as we have!  Know them, nurture them, enjoy them and be proud of them!