We all have strengths and we all love those things about us. I want you to be proud of exactly who you are because you are the best at being you. Yet, in being the best at being ourselves we have to consider what comes with our strengths. If you knew you could leverage your strengths to be a better version of yourself, would you want the opportunity? I’m sure like me, you would. But, to that thought, we aren’t told much about what comes with the things that are our strengths.
As many of us know most things come with highs and lows, even our strengths. In this blog, we will refer to the highs of our strengths as balconies and the lows of our strengths as basements. We have to recognize that our strengths have both a high and a low. Understanding this can help us better approach life by not only being aware of our strengths but also understanding why they are strengths and how they can also be barriers. I know you are thinking, “how can what makes me strong, hold me back?” Believe me, they can be!
I took the Clifton Strength Finder Test in the Spring semester of this year (2020). Because of this test, I was able to determine my top 5 strengths. Of course, if you paid extra they would rank all of your 34 Strengths. So I took this test and it popped out with my top 5; Competition, Achiever, Significance, Includer, and Analytical. Keep in mind that many people who take this test have had their top 5 strengths change over time. But, here is what I found out about myself.
My top strength is competition which is for people who measure their success and progress against the performance of others and strive to be the best in all things. The balconies for someone who has a strength of competition is often driven, motivated, measurement-oriented, and a winner. My entire life I was raised to believe that I am not the best or winning that I have failed, and it seems that ideology has stuck with me throughout my life. When I played sports, I would tell people I hated to lose more than I enjoyed winning. Although I did not throw tantrums or was a sore loser, I was down on myself and pushed myself to be better than I was before to win the next round. As an adult, I learned to cope better with not being the best or always winning as failures became more frequent. The basements for the competition strength are being a sore loser, not a team player, puts down others, self-centered and confrontational. Of all these things, I know that I can be self-centered but I have tried to give myself mental cues to focus on others but I also, think my self-centeredness is balanced out by my includer strength which I outline later in my essay. Maybe the includer strength minimizes the other basements, specifically, putting down others and not being a team player because I thrive in a team environment.
My second strength is achiever which is typically someone who is relentless and hard-working. Also, it is a busy body but gets great satisfaction in being productive. The balconies for an achiever are listed as tireless, strong work ethic, leads by example, go-getter, and hungry. The balconies accurately describe me and my approach to all things I say that I set my mind to do. When I set my mind to something, I can easily not eat and stay up all night to complete what I am working on. The basements listed are not the basements I would say comes with the balconies for me. The basements are listed as unbalanced, brown-noser, overcommitted, can’t say no, burns the candle at both ends, and too concentrated on work. I agree with being too concentrated, but it may not be on just work it could be whatever I have set myself to complete. I have learned to protect my time and energy over the years which made it easy to say no and not burn the candle at both ends but the basements I experience are far worse. I find myself being so invested in completing something that I ignore my health by not eating and not sleeping which often leads to being overwhelmed and amplifying my anxiety. For instance, I am needing to move, and I have focused so much time on trying to figure out where that I barely ate for two days and the little time, I slept was terrible. This has led to me being overwhelmed and anxious, which leads to stress and depression for me if I do not get control of the task at hand.
My third strength is significance which is someone who wants to be important and make a big impact in some way. Typically, someone with this strength is independent and prioritizes projects based on how much influence the project will have on their organization or environment. The balconies for someone with this strength is someone who seeks outstanding performance, does things of importance, and independent with basements of recognition hungry, self-focused, and needy. I agree with the balconies and most of the basements. In a previous position, I spent a lot of my downtown working on projects I created to make training and processes better and easier. Although I wanted to help everyone, I also knew what the impact it would make on the company. Additionally, I worked twice as hard to break records and worked on big cases that made the news. I was satisfied without always receiving the recognition because I knew no one could take the accomplishment from me. As for the basements, they are all true except for being recognition hungry but my includer strength may compensate for that trait. I believe when whatever would warrant recognition is for the better of everyone, I am satisfied without receiving recognition.
My fourth strength is my favorite as it was something I saw as a strength or weakness, it really did not seem like anything to me, this strength is includer. An includer is someone who shows awareness to those who feel left out and tries to include them. I have always been this way since I was a child and it’s reassuring to know this is something that is a strength. I love this strength because it balances all my other very unhuman-like strengths out. The balconies of an includer are someone who invites others in, caring, engages others, sensitive, and takes up for others. I have always been depicted as rigid and insensitive, but I believe this strength softens the basements of all my other strengths. It balances out my competition by making me a better team player, my significance by balancing out my need for recognition when it is for the better of everyone, and my analytical by minimizing the rigidness that comes with needing answers. As for my achiever strength, it often enables this trait by wanting to fix everything for everyone which also ties into my significance but balances it out in other instances where I turn off that tirelessness to spend time with family. The basements for this strength are indiscriminate, unable to decide, and generous to a fault. These are mostly true as deciding such as finding a place to move becomes more cumbersome than necessary. I currently have a list of places that may not need to be included and now I am overwhelmed.
My last and fifth top strength is analytical which is also very much me. Those with an analytical strength are often people who can think about all the factors that might affect a situation. While on my hunt for a new apartment, I made a spreadsheet that outlines all the square footage, price, bedrooms, bathrooms, amenities, and even whether I could cancel my gym membership. It answers all the questions and even has conditional formatting which color codes the yes’s, no’s, price, and distance. I often need all the answers before deciding or agreeing. The balconies include thinks things through, smart, logical, deep, thorough, comfortable with numbers, figures, and charts. All these are true as I explained in my apartment hunt example. The basements include rude, short, tough, never satisfied with the answer, and ask too many questions. My partner thought I was dry based on our text conversations but later realized I had much more personality than my concise and short answers came off. I don’t agree with never being satisfied because if the answer makes sense I will agree.
I know that most of my basements truly involve me connecting with people, but I am glad that I had a strength with balconies and basements which balances out the other basements. Learning both the balconies and basements helps me understand that I need to spend time balancing out completing tasks and not compiling unnecessary information to minimize anxiety and being overwhelmed.
The Clifton Strength Finder does cost but I will look for a free version to share with you all. I implore you to review your strengths to better understand your balconies and your basements.