Strengths help define us just as much as weaknesses. And while we would love for the former to outweigh the latter on all occasions, that’s simply just not the case. Sometimes, our weaknesses rear their little (or big) selves right before our very eyes (unfortunately, so it would seem). . . and I learned on Tuesday at the Furman University Women in Leadership Institute that’s not entirely a bad thing. Wait, what? Weaknesses (and knowing what they are) aren’t a bad thing? Who’s moderating this institute anyway? Didn’t they get the memo: weaknesses are bad. Do I need to jump in and correct everyone? Lord help us.
But I was wrong.
Turns out, you’re not just “one in a million” as the phrase goes. In fact, technically based on the 34 strengths that we were assessed on during the first session, we are each one in thirty-three million. Based on how we fared on our strengths (top five, top ten) and weaknesses (bottom five, bottom ten) and everything in between. . . our strengths and weaknesses make us as individual as fingerprints.
After my initial concern that 4/5 of my top strengths were in “relationship building” (I guess I’m not as well-rounded as I thought in terms of strengths), the facilitator pointed out something rather insightful out to me. (Yes, I was the girl who raised her hand, panicking that my strengths were not spread equally across the board.)
She said, “You don’t have to be strong at everything, you know. You just have to know your strengths, hone those, and find people who compliment them. THAT’s when you have a powerful situation. Whether at work, at home, or with friends. . . Find those people who compliment your strengths, such that the sum total is better than the individual parts.” Wow, thanks Dr. Kim Keefer with the Shucker Learning Institute. You pretty much blew my mind.
In a day and age where we, as women (Caro would say #GirlBosses) feel like we have to be “it all” for everyone (and trust me, there’s always someone else who needs you for something), it was somewhat freeing to realize that it’s okay not to be evenly spread across the strengths board. And that you don’t have to have it all. You can trust God, the Universe, a higher power (hey, whatever you believe – that’s your bag). . . But people are put into your life for a reason.
We then went on to list out people who we “partner” with that make us better as a whole. Luckily, this came easy to me. Apparently I know who is better at certain things than I am. (I suppose this comes from having a psychologist as a sister.) We also examined who you find yourself partnering with who might not really fit your strengths (read: takes a little bit too much, and doesn’t give back nearly what they receive).
With an office full of young women, emerging into who they become in the personal and professional world, I always try to tell them and treat them as if they are “one in a million.” I think, and don’t judge me, that once on Oprah (still sad her show is where I can’t seem to find it, but that’s another blog post). . . she interviewed someone who said “My mother treated each of us like we were her favorites, and we all felt that way.” And that’s how I designed DFS Creative Concepts. To ensure each client, collaborator and employee felt they were the very most important. That they were the one-in-a-million.
But surprisingly, and in a happy way, my people, collaborators and my clients are so much more than that. They’re one-in-thirty-three million. I’m no math genius (just ask my teachers growing up – they would see me walk in and run for dear life when I would launch into my questions), but it seems rather clear to me: we are way more special than we thought.
And it’s not only due to our strengths, but also our weaknesses, and everything in between. It all weaves together to create the fabric of who we are as people.
So for “Doses of DFS” this Friday, I guess the point of this way-too-long-post is that you’re more unique, special, and different than you think. And that’s not just because of the good stuff. But also because of the weaker parts and everything average in between.
Let’s stop thinking of ourselves as just one-in-a-million. When truly, you’re exponentially more than that.
PS: My fifth strength is strategic. And our office people have all taken the same analysis, and between all of us, we’ve got all the boxes checked as strengths. Like a puzzle, we all seem to fit together to create our little powerhouse of women, and I couldn’t feel more lucky.