growth mindset · leadership · Mandy Froehlich · PLN · professional development · reflections · relationships

Celebrating Our Strengths to Support Others

I like to think that I subscribe to the humble-teacher way of thinking. I did not get into education for recognition or to tell people how great I am. I truly believe that the most awesome people I know show their greatness in their actions and never need to tell a soul how fantastic they truly are. That being said, there are times when it’s important to recognize your strengths. First, taking the time to identify your strengths means you also recognize your weaknesses, and it’s as important to know one as it is the other. Second, knowing what you excel at allows you to be aware of what you bring to the table when you collaborate with others and use your powers for good. So many times I work with teachers who are bashful when I ask them what their strengths are because they don’t want to toot their own horn, but there is definitely a difference between bragging and being willing to recognize your talents and share your ideas. Being humble and sharing your strengths are not mutually exclusive. The more I’ve moved to realizing that I do have ideas to share that would help someone else, on Twitter for example, the more support professionally I’ve received in return. Similar to the idea of if you put positive thoughts out into the universe positivity will come back to you. ‘Er something like that.

I used to have a friend that told me I hedge too much, and I ALMOST started this blog post with “I’m not good at many things, but…” which isn’t true. I do have talents. While it’s easier for me to blog about this now, it has taken me a LONG TIME and a significant amount of effort to get to this point because, I’ve found, that in general, we learn about our strengths and weaknesses best from going through a challenging situation. True reflection sometimes contains some personal and/or professional soul searching. But no matter how we come by these realizations, it’s time that we all start to wear what we know to be our great qualities at as a badge of honor so we can continue learning in the areas where we haven’t earned our badges yet. For example, a few of my strengths are as follows:

I’m an all or nothing girl – Everything I do, I am 100% in. There’s no middle ground… there’s no halfway. While some people might call this obsessiveness, I like to call it tenacity or relentlessness (or at least when people talk about me, those are the nice terms they use). The other day I was in a book study group with a teacher that I’ve known for awhile. She read a quote, and then turned to me and said, “This quote reminded me of  you. How you always seem to move forward even when someone tells you it’s impossible, and you just keep going, no matter what.” Well, this is where that strength comes in. When some people would be willing to let go and would tell me to move on, I hang on anyway, believing that something amazing can come from having faith in and working toward something that seems improbable. The things that are most worth our time and effort are rarely easy, and they typically only come with sacrifice and diligence especially when it appears they are heading toward failure. What this means: if you’re working on a difficult project and you want someone who is going to stick with you to the bitter end no matter the outcome, I’m your gal.

I can read people like a book – Because of my challenging childhood, I learned to read people very early on. I never walk into a room without taking stock of the climate of the room and the people in it. I am particularly good at watching the people I care about and knowing when they’re having an off day. This strength allows me to change my communication style to what people need at the moment which in turn allows me to make deeper connections, and the massive amount of value I put onto the relationships I create is another one of my strengths.

Like I said, knowing these strengths allows me also to recognize areas where I could use additional learning opportunities, even in relation to my perceived strengths. For example, lately I’ve been looking more into implementing balance into my life. It’s very difficult to be 100% into everything you’re doing and not find that your attention needs to be in 100 different places at once, and that’s not healthy. I also need to get better at recognizing that not everyone is like me, and I can’t push expectations that I place on myself onto other people. For example, realizing that just because I take on an additional project at work without a second thought, doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to be willing to do that as well, or just because I’m willing to take the time to create an additional learning opportunity for teachers doesn’t mean that they are going to be willing to partake in it, and that doesn’t make them poor professionals.

We have put so much time and effort in using the word reflection, but don’t take the time to do it often enough, and when people do, it usually revolves around a post on something we need to improve on. This is important, of course, but so is recognizing the great things that all of us bring to the table. When we recognize someone else’s rockstar qualities, it inspires us to be better than we already are. So, take some time and truly think about it. What are your strengths? How do they relate to you’re to-do list of learning either personally or professionally? Because this kind of reflecting is not easy, but it is definitely important when we desire to grow as a whole person.

steve jobs

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