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The challenge of strengths

I recently attended an accreditation course for a psychometric called Strengthscope. As this is based on positive psychology I expected all smiles and happiness with no real challenge. However, I found the experience both challenging and stretching.

Strengths are defined as qualities that energise us, contribute to our personal growth and lead to peak performance. The evidence says that when organisations focus on a strengths based approach then employee engagement and productivity increases. A pretty compelling business case.

I had completed the questionnaire beforehand and received my ‘results’ at the workshop in the form of a report. As I went through the training day, I was coached several times on my strengths. Instead of feeling all warm and fuzzy, at times I felt hot and sweaty with a distinct ‘OMG’ feeling.

As well as recognising my strengths, there is a part of the feedback coaching process that focused on stretching strengths. It was when I was coached through this phase that the hot and sweaty feelings emerged. The intention was to ‘stretch’ the strengths out of my comfort zone. Working with strengths is natural, easy and relaxed. However, the notion of ‘stretch’ takes this to a different level. What I had taken for granted as being simple, I now had to consciously identify how to use more frequently and effectively. There was no turning back the challenge had been set, this was not an option, the question was “how will you stretch your strengths?”

After agreeing with my top 7 strengths I focused my attention on the 3 key strengths of creativity, efficiency and resilience and committed to develop and use these more.

Another section of the feedback coaching was how to overcome performance risks that strengths could go into overdrive, as well as blockers and interference. These blockers are limiting beliefs and unhelpful self-talk. My internal voice frequently tells me “I’m not good enough”, and I have a blocker around fear of failure. Acknowledging these feelings was another ‘OMG’ moment. Also, these limiting beliefs get in the way of stretching my strengths.strengths picture for blog

During the training day I had received feedback through the report (F of FACTS), and I set courageous goals (C of FACTS) around stretching my strength and acknowledging my internal voice.

The greatest challenge came from the surprise feelings I experienced. I had expected a relaxed and easy training day, acknowledging the things that energised me. Instead I experienced my tension (T of FACTS) increase from an initial ‘cosy-club’ or ‘rust-out’ level to a massive overload when realising I had to do more to stretch my strengths.

Maybe the most effective challenge occurs when it is unexpected.

Feel free to keep me accountable on my strengths stretch through our Challenging Coaching Linked In Group.