Do you know your strengths, and are you putting your God-given talents to work?
I recently did a deep dive into these two questions when I reconnected with my longtime friend, Travis Archer Hall, over coffee. After catching up on life, our conversation turned to discovering and using our strengths. It’s been several years since Travis and I last connected, and Travis is now a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. Our journey began over a decade ago when Travis and I attended a workshop on the book Now Discover Your Strengths. Today, strengths are Travis’s expertise—which is great for me because I am passionate about this topic!
Here are a few things Travis reminded me about strengths during our coffee shop conversation!Do you know your strengths? If so, how are you using them to fulfill your God-given dreams? Click To Tweet
What are Strengths?
Strengths are the areas where we naturally excel. In these areas, we have the potential to outshine others. Contrary to popular belief, everyone cannot be good at everything. Knowing our strengths is important because all of us have certain areas where we can excel. There are also other areas where we’ll always be mediocre at best. This is why knowing our strengths is so important. Discovering your strengths will allow you to focus on the areas where you can shine bright!
Let me explain with a story.
Growing up, teachers told me that I could be anything I wanted. The American dream says, “Discover your passion, work hard, and the world is at your fingertips.” The only problem is this type of thinking is not entirely true. As my friend Travis so eloquently states, “We all have way more weakness than strengths.” The idea that children can grow up to be anything they want is simply unrealistic. For example, if you happen to be just over five feet tall, then a dream of becoming a professional basketball player is out of reach–Yes, pun intended.
How to Discover Your Strengths: My Story
In my book Coffee Shop Conversations Psychology and the Bible, I tell my story of giving up the pursuit of music. Although I love music, I was born with less than perfect hearing. Thus, I have a hard time staying on key and just do not possess the tools needed to excel in this area. I discovered this through a process of trial and error. Early in college, I began playing the guitar. After months of practice, I led a first-grade Sunday school class in a time of worship. Before we began, I taught the class the hand-motions to the song. Then we started to sing. A smile washed over my face as the entire class actively engaged. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one boy singing loudly while simultaneously covering his ears with both hands.
I share this experience because it brought my strengths and weaknesses to light. I discovered that I am great at leading others. Helping others get excited and engaged comes naturally and is something I enjoy doing. On the other hand, music is an area that requires a lot of work on my part for minimal progress. According to the strengths research, when people pursue growth in their weakness, they become mediocre at best. I watched in frustration as people naturally gifted in these areas put in half the effort I did and achieved twice the results. I learned that hard work alone is not enough—strengths matter!
When we hone in on our God-given talents, we truly shine.
Each of us has areas where we naturally excel. Travis states, “All of us have things we can do that 10,000 other people can’t.” Understanding my strengths and weaknesses allowed me to shift my focus off music and onto leadership. When you discover your strengths, you’ll be able to work smarter, and not harder.When we hone in on our God-given talents, we truly shine. Click To Tweet
Why are strengths important?
During our conversation, Travis stated, “Uniqueness is value.” God designed you for a reason. Psalm 139:14 describes us as “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God handcrafted us for a purpose, and the world benefits when we put our unique gifts to good use. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Travis believes that God made us to be strong in our niche and that we are designed to use our strengths to serve others.
Discovering your strengths is about learning to be good at being the person God designed you to be. Although we can’t excel at everything, we can stand out in some areas. The trick is to discover your strengths and then hone in on them. According to Travis, “It’s ok to have both strengths and weaknesses.” One of the things that we learn from this is that “Ultimate wholeness comes from being part of a community.” People are interdependent. You and I will always need others, and other people will always need us. Tom Rath summed it up when he stated, “You cannot be anything you want to be–but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” So who are you?
What exactly is a strengths coach?
Years ago, the Gallup organization conducted a study of over two million people. Gallup identified the 34 most common talents–or areas of strength unlikely to change over time. They then created a simple, on-line test to support ordinary people like you and me in discovering these strengths. If you have never taken the test, I would encourage you to try it. The test is fun, and the results are fascinating. Gallup has put out several strengths related books that all come with a free on-line testing code (In other words, there is no cost for taking this test apart from purchasing the book. However, you will want to purchase the book new, as used books may come with an invalid code).
After completing the test, participants are awarded a certificate outlining their top five strengths. One of Travis’ strengths is individualization. People with this skill excel in drawing out the unique qualities of others. As a strengths coach, Travis puts his own strengths to work by supporting others honing in on their, God-given talents. Travis is also a Maximizer–a strength that both he and I share. Maximizers love to take things to the next level. We think mediocre is boring and are energized by refining and re-refining our work. Travis is a man on a mission who not only knows about the strengths, he is actively putting his own to good use.
If you’re new to the idea of strengths, I encourage you to begin the process of discovering yours. The books Now, Discover Your Strengths and StrengthsFinder 2.0 are great places to start. Once you discover your strengths, you will begin viewing the world differently. You will not only recognize your strengths, but you will also begin to see them in others. Strengths discovery is highly recommended for:
- Anyone desiring to make a positive impact on the world.
If you would like to go deeper, I would recommend finding a coach. A good coach can help you discover your strengths. This doesn’t have to be with us. However, you can check our Christian Coaching packages and schedule a free call here.
Continue the Conversation
I would love to hear from you.
- What are your strengths? Do you know them?
- How are you putting your strengths to work at home and work?
- What is God calling you to do, and how has he uniquely equipped you to fulfill this vision?
While you and I cannot excel at everything, we can be the person God is calling us to be. Let’s continue the strengths-based conversation in the comments below.