The firewood itself is not the fire. – Nagajuna
How cool is that? Instantly, my Strategic and Ideation strengths leapt into action, creating an analogy. Your strengths are your firewood, and you are the fire. Without the personal incarnation, the ignition in your heart, mind and soul, they are dead. When you fuel your strengths with the winds of passion, knowledge, skills (and practice!), they light up the world.
This is why I love to see people use their strengths – I am passionate about helping people be wildly successful and happy. My favorite emails are from my friends, colleagues and clients “lighting it up!”
This also proves why we can’t form a one-to-one map of strengths to roles. We could all have the same strengths (firewood) but our fires are NEVER the same. The best role for me would be different from the best role for you – even if we have the same top 5 strengths. Your flame is different from mine. When we become better and stronger at using our strengths, our unique value proposition shines through.
While I was on vacation, I received a marvelous email from a colleague of mine who resides on another continent. Sarah D emailed me about her experience with developing and leveraging her strengths, with intent, over the past year. I edited it to remove company information.
Hi Maureen – the power of your strengths work lives on! I have been living by the strengths this year and through my commitment to play to my strengths I am making small but significant differences to the lives of my (teammates) everyday. Thank you again for being such an agent for change in my contribution to (company name) this year! I salute you! – Sarah
Sarah took the slow but steady route, and it paid off. Small but significant is good – it proves that Sarah is in it for the long haul. Sarah’s email reminds me of the point of the quote below.
We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine. – Dwight L. Moody
So, my friends, let us light up the sky and be beacons of hope with our total awesomeness. What does it look like when YOU are on fire? Inquiring minds want to know!
Maureen, another thought provoking post, thank you.
I have a habit of pushing analogies to breaking point, so here goes…
A fire can only burn in the presence of oxygen and with a good draft, or a chimney to draw. So with our strengths as fuel, does the oxygen come from other people around us. Some people would starve your fire of the oxygen it needs, others will breathe onto it and help it to thrive.
Analogy still holding, so…
A fire takes effort to start, at the beginning it seems to take heat out of the surroundings and will die at the slightest provocation, some people are talented at starting a fire, others not so much. You as a strengths coach are great at starting fires! When we first find out what our strengths are and try to use them it is hard, we have to break some bad habits and adjust our ideas. At this point, without a good coach that fire can fail.
In one last effort to stretch the analogy…
A fire is started with kindling before it is strong enough to take larger amounts of fuel. Our top 5 strengths are the kindling, the rest of the 34 are the more significant fuel.
Hello Hazel! As always, I enjoy your perspective on our various strengths point of views. I love your addition – the analogy is not broken at all. Indeed, fuel can come from within and it can (and does) come from people around us. Research shows that people who know their strengths are much more likely to collaborate and innovate with their colleagues (so we fuel one another) – in fact, it’s a measurement of engagement. Thank you for your kind remark about “starting fires” – I hadn’t seen myself that way! Your point about the top 5 being the starting kindling that grows when you add the remaining strengths is totally valid. Strengths + Self-awareness (better with all 34) +Self-Leadership = Success and happiness. Your point about coaching is also valid. I wish we (the global corporate “we”) would operate more like a sports team. Lots of talent, but they never win without great coaching and leadership. Thanks again, Hazel! One last question for you – which strengths did you use to compose your awesome observations? :-)
Maureen, I think that was probably Intellection, my #5. ‘You tend to be most satisfied when your mind is absorbing thoughts you had never before considered’
Add a touch of Context #4 and maybe a little Activator #34 to get the answer posted right away.
I hadn’t really noticed that one statement from Intellection before but perhaps that explains why I go off with the fairies when new ideas cross my path.
I love that Activator raced to the surface to help you make your post. It is so interesting to hear people describe how their strengths manifest themselves. Just because I am familiar with the strengths doesn’t mean I understand how they work for you – it requires dialogue which you excel at. And through that dialogue, we both learn – a new part of your customized report popped out at you. And yes, that might involved a brief journey with the fairies – I love that part of your comment as well. My nephew definitely goes off with the fairies – you can see it happening. So I’m pretty sure he has intellection (age 8!) Anyhow, good to have your perspective and engagement, as always, Hazel! Happy Saturday!
You, Maureen, are ON FIRE! And, Hazel, you, too! What a great post – from the beautiful photo to the wonderful quotes to the useful analogy. Now I better understand what you meant in your recent emails about being on fire! Indeed, I feel like I have been on fire – because of just what you said – I’m not holding back when it comes to leveraging my strengths. I think what Hazel says is also part of it – I’m getting better at starting fires and I’m surrounding myself with people who fuel my fire. Thank you!
Hi Vicki! I know you’re in NY rocking the house with your total awesomeness – and look what a difference a new role makes! Not only are you better positioned to be successful by leveraging your strengths, but you’re going for it (that takes courage – back to that BRAVE thing) AND that is being noticed by your colleagues – awesomeness and energy is contagious – I bet they “want some of what you’ve got!” Can’t wait to hear about the results. If you have time, can you update us with some examples of your strengths in action in your new role? Great work, Vicki!
Like it Maureen, it got me thinking about the kindling and the spark! Strange how associations go, I then though of a similar quote about stained glass:
People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
So,whose turn is it to light the fire today and whose job is it to bring the firewood. Opps, it’s mine! Must add that to the to do list.
Seasons greetings, and very best wishes for 2014
Hi Ray! Great to see you out here – Ireland is in the house! :-) I absolutely love your analogy as well – associations are WONDERFUL. I love your quote and I am familiar with Elisabeth – if memory serves me, she is the woman who has written so eloquently about death and loss and mourning?
And yes, it is OUR job to light the fire, recognize the kindling, and always, always let our inner light shine. What a great task to add to your to do list. I’d love to know your strengths… enjoyed meeting you in Killarney. Onward!