Strengths: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
by Sheryl Richard
This blog article was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend about our strengths as related to the workplace. Though not the first time, I had recently completed the Values in Action (VIA) Character Strengths Survey, which assesses your qualities that come most naturally for you. For the first time, however, love was my number one strength. I had anticipated (honestly, hoped for) top strengths such as leadership, teamwork, etc., those which seemed more relevant for the workplace. I would be remiss not to mention that I compared my strengths to seemingly more desirable strengths of others, which is in no one’s best interest given that character strengths are about being your natural self.
I recall rhetorically saying to my friend something along the lines of, What am I supposed to do with love in the workplace?
As I was finishing the question, I noticed what I was saying, and at the same time, my friend said essentially what resounded in my head and heart, “Everything.”
I quickly became aware that I had viewed love as a soft skill that was less accepted and valued in the workplace arena than technical skills. Sadly, I had toned down my natural strength of love because of this viewpoint.
Humility, Vulnerability, & Authenticity
I called upon humility to acknowledge and accept that I had missed the mark regarding use of my strengths and being true to my real self (and others).
Why had I done this?
It was my way of resisting the discomfort of vulnerability, which in her book, Daring Greatly, Researcher and Author, Brene Brown describes as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure” that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone. The truth of toning down my love strength was a disheartening realization because love is everything to me. To live any part of my life from anyplace other than a place of love is to deny my true self, my authenticity.
How might you relate to this experience?
Consider the importance of authenticity in coaching relationships and the impact on cultivating a genuinely warm, safe space in which vulnerability, transparency, and genuinely being are cultivated. As with the power of silence upon empathically reflecting or profoundly inquiring, it is important to allow your strengths to naturally [do their] work by showing up as and being your authentic self. This minimizes chances of contributing to discord or disconnection and invites your clients to be their authentic selves.
Gracefulness & Gratefulness
In writing this article, I also want you to know that you do not have to perfect your strengths before or in order to use them. Your strengths naturally invite connection, opportunities, and relationship with others.
Why is that important?
There is great need in our world for authenticity and your strengths just as you need others and their strengths. Every strength is valuable. The beautiful part is that all you have to do is be your unique, magnificently imperfect, natural self. In doing so, you are gracefully and gratefully becoming and, simultaneously, modeling ongoing, transformative change that effects positive social change for greater good.
You do not have to know or have it all figured out right now. You can use what you know and have to do what you can at any moment. You will learn with each experience as you apply what you learn. Each step that you take is an act of courage and faith. Even a step backward is progress when you are genuinely trying. Keep trying.
What are your strengths?
How might you use your strengths to “harness the power of your positive traits to live a more fulfilling life” or to make a difference in someone else’s life?
Since gaining deeper understanding of the importance and value of character strengths, I intentionally use my strength of love in expressing compassion and loving-kindness through my words, actions, and way of authentically being, including in the workplace. Heeding the freeing words of a dear friend, I am learning to “love hard and hold loosely.”
Everything is Everything
When it comes to coaching [and the workplace], then, love has absolutely everything to do with it because everything we, as coaches, do comes from a place of love. This is particularly true regarding empathy and compassion. The more loving and compassionate we are toward ourselves and others, the more genuinely and authentically we can relate with and guide our clients through transformative, evolutionary experiences toward achieving their goals and realizing their dreams.
I encourage you to know and use your strengths to their full potential.
Why should you do this?
You add value to lives, including your own, by using and sharing your strengths from the gift of the real, true, authentic you.
Daring Greatly, Brené Brown
VIA Character Strengths Survey. https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register