This week in the “A Year with Myself” journaling project, the subject was discovering your strengths. I read through a lot of the material and even did a couple of surveys regarding the topic. That was all good but there two items in the material that stood out to me the most, mainly because of their simplicity.
One was seeing your strengths NOT as the things you are ‘good at,’ but more as the things or activities that energize you. I’ve done accounting work for close to 3 decades; I’m very good at it, but it does not energize me. Learning new things and helping others, those things energize me.
The other item was even simpler. It was simply answering the question: What do people thank you for? How easy is that?
Think about that for a moment. In the last 6 months or a year, (I would hope) people have thanked you for things. What were they? Are you a gift giver? Always picking up some little or big thing that you know someone else would enjoy or need? Has someone thanked you for making that phone call to check and see how they were doing or for asking about the family concerns they shared with you the last time you saw them? Maybe you’re always being called upon to share your knowledge about auto mechanics or cooking or any other number of things. If you are, that doesn’t just say that you ‘know stuff,’ it says that you are also approachable and able to communicate information to others.
See how easy that is? The next time you’re feeling like you have nothing to offer the world (many of us get in those places from time to time), stop and ask yourself what people have thanked you for in the last year. It’ll help you to realize you have strengths and it will encourage you to use them more.
Now, for those of you who TRULY can not remember anyone thanking you for ANYTHING during the last year, yes, you do have a problem. But the problem is not that you aren’t gifted at anything, the problem is that you aren’t using your gifts and strengths to benefit anyone but yourself (or you’ve surrounded yourself with ungrateful people). Whichever it is, it is time to make a change. Do something for someone in the next few days that will gain you a thank you. It doesn’t have to be big. Thank you’s really aren’t that hard to come by. See if it doesn’t lift your spirits to hear those little words.
If you got a thank you and your enjoyed or were glad you did what you did, you have just discovered one of your strengths.