You have great natural resources, sometimes also called strengths, which you can T.A.P. into. You’ve probably had these gifts most, or all, of your life. You just didn’t know it, and you don’t know how to tap into them. Here’s how you can identify and put your natural resource to work.
T—stands for Take. Take a personal inventory of your strengths and write them down. To identify your strengths, it may help to take a look back to your younger years. Has anyone ever communicated your strengths and potential so clearly to you that it profoundly influenced your life—that it helped define who you are today? Think back. Maybe it was your 4th grade teacher, maybe your high school coach, maybe your best friend, maybe your mom or dad. Someone saw your potential, your unique strengths. They may have told you, “You have a beautiful voice,” and now you’re a singer. They told you, “You’re good with kids,” and now you’re a teacher. “You have an awesome mechanical mind,” someone said, and you became an engineer. You heard from someone, “You really care about people when they are sick,” and now you’re a nurse. Their loving words of affirmation inspired you to become what you are today. So, start your personal inventory by looking back.
A—stands for Ask. Perhaps you never had a dad, mom, teacher, coach or friend who communicated to you the great strengths and potential they saw in you. If that’s the case, here’s one easy way to find out what your strengths are. Just ask five family members or friends, “In one or two words, what do you think is my single, greatest strength?” While there might be one or two different answers, the majority will probably agree. And when they tell you, it will not be a surprise. They are just confirming something that you’ve probably known all along. You just needed someone to bring it to light and affirm it to you. Many years ago, Bob Biehl of Masterplanning Group International introduced me to this idea of identifying my greatest strength. He also challenged me, as he has done for countless others, to determine what it was. When I asked five friends and family members, I received several very similar answers. I, however, boiled it down to one word: “catalyst.” A catalyst is an agent who provokes change or gets things going. At the same time, I also realized that one of my weaknesses was implicit in that strength. I am not particularly skilled at managing people or things over the long haul. So, if you want to launch a new product, program or event, I might be able to put together the strategy and field the team to do so. Just don’t let me manage it!
P—stands for Ponder. It’s important to know your strengths. Not so that you can become self-serving, but so that you will know, in turn, how to help family members and other people understand their strengths. Ponder how you can be the person who affirms the strengths you see in your child or friend. My wife, Susan, and I are constantly talking to our children about the strengths we see in them and how they can use those strengths. A short note to your child, friend or co-worker can also be a good way to validate their gifts. Our Family First program for fathers, All Pro Dad, holds events with NFL teams at their stadiums across the country. One thing we do at these major gatherings of fathers and their children is have the men write a short letter to their child. In one part of the letter, we encourage them to describe and praise their son or daughter for their unique talents and strengths. This doesn’t have to be done in a football stadium. You can write the letter in your office or at your kitchen table. Is it time for you to affirm your child in their strengths right now?