Date Added: May 2016
During performance reviews, interviews and networking we are often asked about our strengths. The belief is strengths differentiate us from others. While strengths are important, it is our gifts which are unique.
To define the difference, strengths are items we develop over time which we become exceptional at. Gifts are God-given unique traits we are born with which we may or may not ever fully acknowledge or develop. Discovering our strengths is easier because there are tests to do so. We must invest time to discern our gifts because our strengths can change based on our gifts.
There is an individual who has taken the “StrengthsFinder” test many times, which provides one’s top five strengths. In all instances, two of his five strengths are consistent; however, the other three change. They change based on what is occurring with his gifts. The most recent test gave him a No. 1 strength of responsibility and a No. 2 strength of belief. Never before had these strengths been in his top five.
Interestingly, he has a gift of integrity. This is not to say others do not have integrity as a gift because each individual uses gifts differently. For this person, his integrity was being heavily challenged by others at work because they were doing things which he felt were not honorable. Due to this, when taking the strengths test, he had new strengths of responsibility and belief. The gift of integrity doesn’t change; however, one’s strengths can change based on what is occurring with your gifts.
Unfortunately, our humility takes precedence because we don’t like to discuss our gifts. We feel others have the same gifts so we are not unique or we are embarrassed to speak of our personal gifts. We need to understand our gifts should be discussed because they are so powerful. Effectively leveraging our gifts in a positive way is to use them for others – not ourselves.
Think of Superman, Batman, Ironman or others. They use their gifts for the benefit of others. It is villains who use gifts for their own self-interests. This a major difference for each of us when reflecting on our gifts because we are each super heroes in our own way.
We need to trust our gifts and be the unique individuals we were each created to be. There will always be others who aren’t satisfied with who we are. We cannot continue to go through life trying to please others because we will never please everyone. The real you is better than anyone else you can be; and the real you using your gifts to positively impact others makes you a super hero to others.
Another example is an individual who has gifts of security and excellence. Security is the ability to make others feel safe in their work and home environments, assuring everything will be okay, and things will always work out. Excellence is helping others see their potential, discern their gifts, and strive for their personal best.
This individual has a work atmosphere with many disengaged employees and can effectively use these gifts. Security helps others believe things can get better and become more engaged. His excellence helps coach and mentor others on gift discernment so they can positively impact others. He is helping create a group of heart and soul inspired leaders who can use their gifts on others. Think of the positive impact on the organization – similar to what you can have on your own organization, family and community via your gifts.
Mother Teresa has a frequently used quote: “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Think of your gifts as a winning lottery ticket you need to cash in. Do not fear using them. Do not fear what others will say. Be the best you possible by proactively using your gifts for the good of others.
David Yeghiaian is committed to positively impacting the lives of others through faith, inspiration and leadership. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.