Perfectionist. Workhorse. Talks too much. Asks too many questions. Showoff. Know it all.
The words that we use to describe ourselves, or hear ourselves described as by others, don’t always sound like compliments. In fact, for many people, they rarely do. As a strengths coach, I often work with clients who are shocked to be given a framework to see their talents as just that – talents. Instead, all too often, they have grown accustomed to diminishing, or even dismissing, their talents as a result of consistently heard messages that seem to paint a less than “talented” picture. This doesn’t surprise me. I used to see my own strengths in exactly the same light.
For years, I labeled myself as a chronic perfectionist. I choose the term chronic, because behind that self-proclaimed label were feelings not of pride in the meticulous way I approached tasks, giving 100% to my commitments, but an exhaustive excuse for running myself into emotional empty far too frequently. The more I used the term, the more I believed it was my dismal destiny. In a sense, it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy for me. Every time the word perfectionist came out of my mouth, the more I bought into the lie that it was “just the way I was.” The real problem with that, however, was that I believed that was a liability. I had lost sight of what I brought to a table because of my hard work ethic and tireless effort with which I approached tasks. I was seeing my Achiever talent as a liability, not as an asset.
Perhaps you too have altered your own perception of your talents. Maybe you’ve taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment and after receiving your results, found yourself reading about “talents” which you’d never considered assets before. It’s time to change the message we bring to our organizations and teams. It’s time to be a champion for our own contributions. It’s time that we understand and harness the power of our unique talents, learning to manage them, by first seeing them as just that – talents – which are incredible assets to the world around us.
Gallup’s extensive research on strengths tells us that people who focus on using their strengths are three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life and six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. However, if we fail to recognize our talents and strengths as assets, we risk missing out on the power and edge we can bring to our roles, both professionally and personally. Over the last year or so, I have eliminated the word perfectionist from my vocabulary. Instead, I have replaced it with positive talent descriptors such as go-getter, hungry and independent. I have given myself permission to embrace what I have to offer my role, my organization, my clients, and my world. Give yourself permission to do the same. Stop seeing your unique contributions as liabilities, and begin seeing them as assets.
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