Know and invest in other’s strengths

I’m sorry to admit it, but we’ve had a bit of a setback. Louie and I have been working incredibly hard and doing very well. He has improved his greeting when people come to the door, although he did have a “strong” reaction to the guy who was repairing my air conditioner. However, $650 later, I think Louie was on to something, so I let that one go.

Then there was the time he tried to tear down the door to get to the adorable pizza delivery girl. Personally, I don’t blame him since Jet’s deep-dish pizza was on the other side. Thankfully, he settled down while I was handling the transaction, and was quite well behaved.

But neither of those incidents was the setback. You see, he is scared to death of cats. Any color and any type of cat, it doesn’t matter…he is terrified. Unfortunately, it does not help that during our walks he can see them skulking across the street, several yards away.

I’m not sure what happened to cause such a strong reaction. It is more than just the normal dog/cat thing. He actually shudders. My granddaughter, Evi, thinks the nick on his ear is from a cat. How she deducted that, I have no idea, but she may be correct.

He relives the deep emotional trauma brought on by a cat in his past every time he sees one, and this has been detrimental to his life’s journey—that is, of having fun and happily socializing with other beings in the neighborhood.

But it has occurred to me that Louie has no idea how strong he is. Cat lovers, you may want to stop reading at this point because it won’t be pretty. Louie doesn’t know that his 40-pound muscular frame could dominate a cat and his mouth is so huge and powerful that one chomp—well, you know where I’m going with this. Yet he doesn’t show any signs of aggression toward them; he just whines, shudders, and tries desperately to run away. It’s unsettling that he gets so upset and the cat doesn’t even acknowledge a dog is in the area. When faced with a feline, he just needs to keep walking, but he feels the need to alert the entire neighborhood that a wicked cat is in the vicinity, and everyone needs to take cover!

Just like Louie, some of us are oblivious to our strengths. We don’t know how strong we are in certain areas and what we are truly capable of if we operate out of our strengths. Many of us let fear, doubt, and insecurity rule our minds, and this causes us to miss tapping into our talents. On the other hand, some of us think so highly of ourselves that we overestimate our strengths. And imagine the amount of untapped talent we have within our own team because they are not aware of their strengths.

Many of us have taken assessments that indicate our strengths. These are great tools, but I find the best form of assessment is asking people who will speak truth into my life and give me honest feedback. If you have adult children, ask them to tell you your strengths and weaknesses.

Some time ago a study was done called “Reflected Best Self Exercise,” which is based on research by Robert Quinn, Jane Dutton, Gretchen Spreitzer, and Laura Morgan Roberts. They shared how to go about assessing your strengths by gathering feedback from those around you who know you best.

Many of us are like Louie in that we operate in fear because we don’t recognize where we are strong. It has taken me years to identify my strengths and understand how to operate in them. As a leader, my role is to help others recognize their strengths and empower them to cultivate those strengths. I know from experience that helping someone discover their strengths is a blessing, not just for that person, but also to everyone in their sphere of influence.

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