Don't try be me, i'm already taken
I wrote an article recently on not feeling valued and it made me realise that until we accept ourselves for the greatness we bring, we will never feel valued.
Yet how are we supposed to know ourselves? How do we discover who we really are?
Digging deeper into my own Strengths this year, I have come to realise what gifts we all have been given. I was raised with this and yet, like many of us, my journey has been a long, and sometimes, arduous one.
We’ve all been endowed with our own unique talents and strengths to be exquisitely us. So why is it some of us feel we cannot be ourselves, thinking others are better than us, smarter than us, or just more than us? Why do we suffer from jealousy, envy, lack of self esteem, if we are as unique and gifted?
The first question I believe we need to start with is “how do we know who we are”?
Addressing this with sincere ‘confident vulnerability’ (DeAnna Murphy) I feel this is the first year I can stand up and say who I am and what I have to offer, yet this is a journey which we must walk daily, because we never stop learning about ourselves. I have worked through my own Strengths Report to understand how I “think, feel & behave” innately, and it has been fascinating, a real ‘light bulb moment’, firstly to read about myself and how accurate this report is, and secondly to absolutely embrace my behaviours, own them, and grow into my own excellence. This is not boastful. It just is.
I feel for the first time in my life to be able to answer the question “who are you?”
For me, interrogating and ‘owning’ my Strength Report, has been like unwrapping an uncut diamond and realising the more I chip away, the more the beauty beneath is revealed and then, recognising that not only is the diamond capable of beauty - as in a piece of jewellery, it has so many other hidden uses that are not at once recognised. Yet when we take the time and trouble to ‘dig in’ and concentrate on what we have, not what we don’t, we embrace the most wonderful reality – “this is me”.
“Diamond membranes are durable, resistant to heat, and transparent, making them highly useful. Because diamonds are so hard and durable, they are ideal for grinding, cutting, drilling, and polishing. When used as an abrasive, very small pieces of diamond are embedded into grinding wheels, saw blades, or drill bits.”
So like the many uses of a diamond, sometimes we do not realize the true value of what we have. Take the Strength of “Deliberative”. Many people will look at a person with Deliberative and see them as negative, because people with ‘deliberative’ might tend to sit in a meeting, for instance, drawing our attention to all the faults, issues, problems. Yet when we choose to look at the value of this, turning our thoughts 180 degrees’ these are great people to have in this same meeting, as they will look at things from every angle, anticipate obstacles, and will bring the best decision to the table when this Strength is allowed to be utilized to its fullest, as these people are careful and vigilant.
When used effectively, each of the 34 Strengths can be very powerful.
So who are you?
A story is told of a man walking the earth looking for the best General. He is approached by an Angel who asks him what he’s doing – “looking for the best General on the earth” he replies.
Years later this same man dies, and is seen again, this time roaming heaven. Again he is approached by the same Angel with the same question and replies “I’m looking for the best General, he must be here because I couldn’t find him on earth”.
The Angel looks perplexed and then a sudden realisation crosses his face. “oh you mean that man, over there?”. The man looks over to see the Baker who was his neighbour on earth. “No”, he replied to the Angel, “that was the Baker who lived next door to me”.
“yes”, replied the Angel – “if he’d taken up the challenge, he was to have been the greatest General on earth"
So who are you?
Who have you really been put on the earth to be?
Instead of looking at your problems, turn your mind 180 degrees and ask yourself “what problem have I been given, to help solve for the better of mankind” and begin to see these things as your greatest gift.
As a first stab at finding who you are, and your purpose, think back to a time when you were your happiest. What were you doing? What were people saying about you? How did you feel? What were you thinking about at the time? What was that one thing you were doing where you were lost in the moment, the thing that, even if you weren’t being paid, you would have done every day if you could, just because you simply loved what you were doing?
I feel in our lives, we have been sold a lie, that we are not meant to be happy and we some how buy into this. We believe that our jobs & careers are a means to an end. They pay the bills. We have been sold the fear that says if we go after that which we love, we’ll fail.
So the question I have to ask you is “are you ready to let go of this lie?”
I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand yourself, discover who you are. Begin understanding why you ‘think, feel, behave’ the way you do, as a start in embracing these things as your greatest gifts.
It is not enough to take an online assessment. One needs to work with a qualified Coach who is trained to understand the needs of your Strengths, the Contributions your Strengths bring and why and when, we are not allowed to bring our Strengths, and be who we have been put on the earth to be, we can become toxic. A Strengths Coach can help you to understand and manage your Strengths to bring out the best in them.
We are our happiest when we are using our Strengths. If you had the opportunity to use your top Strengths every day, you would be happy, energised, performing at your best … Just think of the knock on affect of this on others. If we could all just bring that which is innate.
“over 70% of people hate their jobs”
“only 13% of people are engaged in their work”
We have to start challenging the status quo and open our eyes to the beauty of what each of us brings. I'f like to suggest you find yourself a couple of 'cheerleaders' too, people you can trust who can see the real you. Ask these people to really 'see' you and the gifts you bring. We don't get enough positive feedback from people and we really need this. I believe it is a basic human need to feel valued and validated.
So I’d like to finish by quoting my son’s teacher - “Don’t try to fit in, lest you’ll never stand out” – so liberating to a 17-year-old art student in an academic school …
At a Strengths Training session recently, Dries Lombard of Strengths Institute in SA, elaborated on the meaning of the word Shalom. Thinking it only meant ‘Peace’ he went on to explain it’s true meaning. What I came to realise through his sharing, is that our true purpose, is actually our Shalom and I love the definition below, this totally sums up for me how free we should feel, to be ourselves.
According to Strong's Concordance 7965 Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.
Of course, there is only one way to find TRUE shalom - and that is in the Word of YHWH. Many search for fulfillment, happiness and contentment in material possessions, money, sex, entertainment, etc. But those things do nothing to fill "that little hole in our soul" that only GOD can fill! Those things only serve to distract and prevent us from finding true peace...the shalom that can only come from Him who created and put all things into place.
In the Hebraic view, shalom brings the binary mind together, integrating the left brain modality of thinking (linear) and the right brain modality (intuitive). When I say hello to someone I say “shalom.” When I say goodbye to someone I say “shalom.” What is more opposite than coming and going? Hello and goodbye? Shalom is the most radical union of opposites imaginable. Shalom brings together people who disagree with each other so that each will listen deeply to the “other” side. It is the people you do not agree with who have the greatest gift for you – the gift of the potential for wholeness.