We all have great strengths. Some are clear and routinely used, some are tucked away and only rarely accessed. Often we are unaware of our passions or our strengths. Most of us don’t even make the time in our busy days to dwell much on these topics. However, anytime we tap into either or both, we become more of who we want to be.
Pastor John Maxwell said “the dreams and passions stored within hearts are powerful keys which can unlock a wealth of potential.” Allowing yourself to contemplate your own dreams and maximize your strengths will determine your strategy for outstanding performance and results.
As the saying goes, you should “play to your strengths.” Whenever you can apply your strengths to what you do, be it your job, a hobby, or a relationship, you will achieve more. Understanding all your strengths gives you a big advantage in life, including those hidden strengths that we only draw on for special occasions.
Your passion relates to what you want to do, your strengths are what you use to bring that passion into form. We have all probably felt an intuition about something that helped us better navigate a situation. The word intuition comes from the Latin “knowledge from within.” Cultivating these inner abilities can give us a success advantage. Your intuition will shine a light on your desires, and it will confirm your understanding of your own strengths, giving you confidence to consciously deploy them more often.
The Tom Rath book, StrengthsFinder 2.0 looks to measure a person’s capability across multiple talent themes. Talent is defined as a special ability that allows someone to do something well. The more dominant a theme is in a person, the greater the theme’s impact on that person’s behavior and performance. You may have hidden strengths simply because you don’t fully understand your real gifts.
You may also have talents that are hidden because you are not engaged in situations that require such strength. Occasionally, we are in need of atypical strength. The story of the woman who lifts a car to save her child is an inspiring salute to hidden strength.
A quick inquiry on the internet shows more than half a dozen documented cases where an individual, often a woman, lifts a car to save someone pinned underneath. The physics of this are astounding. A typical automobile weighs almost four thousand pounds. The world deadlift record is a little over 1,100 pounds. A Penn State study on these extraordinary scenarios determined that under undue stress your brain releases chemicals that deaden pain and allow for people to override the body’s normal feedback.
But more applicable, the study determined that people can tap into themselves and increase their strength output by up to 20% in short term bursts. People have clearly tapped into a hidden capability for physical strength. The same is true for mental and spiritual strength. There are reserves within each of us that we can tap into to elevate our game.
What if, knowing that we have more capacity, we put ourselves in more demanding situations, more often? What would that look like to you? Your ability to leverage your strengths grows by using them. Steven Covey, in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talks about “sharpening the saw.” Sharpening the saw means focusing on self-renewal, ensuring you don’t burn out, and returning with an increased capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you.
Using and sharpening your strengths will make you increasingly more effective in everything you do. Abraham Lincoln once said, “give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Developing your ability to prepare, use, and refresh, your skills and talents will pay off as you become better able to take on and meet life’s challenges.
Understanding and unlocking your hidden strengths comes first, but then practice tapping in to them by being in action, making mistakes, trying new things, and allowing for the unexpected. Just like in the gym, your strengths will develop by working them out.
Know that you can access your talents in ways that solve problems, and you change the nature of your fear into something you feel you control. Put your intention on an outcome and use your strengths to build momentum to experience what you want. Pope John XXIII offered sage advice, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed, but with what is still possible for you to do,” and use your full power to do it!