Our strengths are our anchor. They keep us fixed, steady, and sure when the winds howl, the waves toss, and fires burn. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there existed a single anchor that worked for everyone? A one size fits all anchor, that we could all use and recognize? Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way (though there are a million self-help books that would disagree and tell you exactly what you need to do…) You are unique, your strengths are unique, and your anchor is unique. The point is for YOU to identify what your anchor looks like, feels like, and know when and how to deploy your anchor when you need it.
If you’ve taken the Strengthsfinder, then you know your top 5 strengths or perhaps even your top 10! What strengths can you tap when the merry-go-round begins to twirl and throw you off balance? Here’s how I try to leverage some of my strengths to anchor myself against Uncle Jerry’s kryptonite.
Achiever: this may feel counter-intuitive, but to prevent me from acting before thinking, I add a line to my to-do list. “Do Nothing Right Now.” I don’t want to act until I know that it won’t contribute to the chaos (and you all know that chaos is my specialty.) I create an action item to commit to inaction. Execution feels great, but as I’ve said to many of you in webinars and one-on-one sessions – you can execute yourself off a cliff. Falling off a cliff does not feel great. By the way, this concept is part of the Hippocratic Oath – first, do no harm. This is important, especially when emotions are running high or the stakes are huge. Don’t do something for the sake of action.
Learner: Stop and obtain a clear view of the landscape before engaging Strategic and Ideation. I try to perform a 360 degree tour so that I can see and learn from as many angles as possible. This is both a “self-view” – how does the landscape look to me – and it can be helpful to look at the landscape from the point of view of others involved. Look for differences and opportunities for alignment.
Strategic + Ideation: Once the landscape is well understood, and the options are considered, then I let my Strategic + Ideation run wild a bit. This requires thinking time away from the situation to determine a Plan A, B, & C, and identify who can help if I can’t do it all myself. I also have to rein in my Strategic sometimes because it has an uncanny ability to leap up, race down the street, and greet an impending disaster before it has even had a chance to form. My Ideation also feeds this – I can swiftly create an image of complete carnage that is entirely imaginary. That doesn’t sound like an anchor, does it? It’s the opposite. It draws me away from my center. Remember, our strengths don’t own us, we own them. Self-leadership is managing your strengths with wisdom, fairness, compassion, and effectiveness.
Self-Assurance: Stay confident in what you know. I will know what to do when I’ve surveyed the landscape and had time to think. If I haven’t had time to do this, then I refer to my statement in Achiever – do nothing because I don’t want to make things worse.
Individualization: This comes in really handy once I’ve made my decision on what should be done, because this helps me push the right buttons for each person involved. I know how to speak to them through their own strengths to either engage them to help, or to prevent/minimize the storm. This is really my only relationship building strength, so I have to strategically (Strategic) bring it to bear with confidence (Self-Assurance). When I do, it helps me compensate for not having Harmony or Empathy.
To summarize, I battle Uncle Jerry by first committing to do nothing until I have surveyed the scene. I’m not moving, Uncle Jerry. My anchor has been deployed, and it’s stronger than you are!! You can scream, kick, cry, be mean, threaten – throw kryptonite – I’m not moving. Then, I lean on my strengths. Once I’ve learned what’s really going on, thought through some options, and decided on priorities with confidence and clarity, then, and only then, do I begin execute my plan to diminish Uncle Jerry’s control over me.
Finally, remember to keep your own side of the street clean. Take the high road, not the low-blow road. There is a feeling of peace and power that comes from remaining centered, especially when you wield your strengths with honor and purpose.
I would love to hear how your strengths help you battle the Uncle Jerry’s in your world. In fact, I’m beginning to have pity for the poor guy (and I don’t even have Empathy!)