Play to Your Strengths

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Pop Quiz:

If one of your children came home from school with a report card that said:

Math A
Geography A+
Social Science A
English C
French A

What would you think?

What would you say?

During a presentation titled Women at their Best: Authentically Engaging Strengths for Maximal Contributions, Professor Laura Morgan Roberts of Harvard Business School, indicated that we will perfunctorily say “Good job” in Math, Social Science, English, and French, but spend far more time trying to understand why the C in English, and formulating a plan for improvement.

In her words, “we will only see the C”.

Is this true for you?

It certainly is for me.

Dr. Roberts expounds by saying that for every negative thing we say, we need to say three positive things to offset or cancel out the negative; within a marriage (I suspect with our children as well), the ratio increases from 3:1 to 5:1.

Just one example.

I still remember my first day of 8th grade at a new school in Almaden, California — we were in the band room — when Mark Weber saw me looking at him, and he said to me, “What are you looking at ugly?”

It's now been more than 30 years, and I have been told many times, by my husband in particular, that I am attractive. Do I remember any details surrounding the compliments? Nope. Not a one. But the memory of Mark Weber remains vivid.

And so the question:

How can we be the hero of our story, really making a difference for ourselves, in our families, communities, workplace, the world, if all we remember are our deficits? We can't.

BUT, Dr. Roberts asserts, if we will play to our strengths, we can.

She defines strengths as:

1. Our innate talents;
2. The competencies we've developed;
3. What we believe (our principles);
4. Our identities (gender, race, ethnicity, religion).

When we know what our strengths are, we have a better sense of self, we're more secure, more likely to validate and encourage others.

When we play to our strengths, we will become the hero of our story, and encourage others be the hero of theirs.

Playing small doesn't serve the world, said Martin Luther King, Jr.

Well then, let's play big.

[bctt tweet=”When we play to our strengths, we will become the hero of our story, and encourage others be the hero of theirs.” via=”no”]

What are your innate talents?

What are your competencies? In other words, what have you become good at because you've spent a lot of time doing it?

What do you believe? What have you been willing to stand up and be counted for?

What is your gender, race or religion — and how have these pieces of who you are shaped you?

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