Living from Your Strengths

by Dr. Ted Fish / January 01st 2020

Where do you get your fire from, your raw will? This may be the least discussed element in leadership development.

I have a long-standing mentor in my life who simply cannot be held down. If someone does something unsafe or hurtful in her presence, they are going to hear about it. It doesn’t matter who they are, or where they might be. It makes for some decidedly uncomfortable moments!

But such is her commitment to truth telling and safety. She says she has always been this way. Growing up with a WWII veteran who assuaged himself with alcohol after a hard day’s work, she would stand between his rage and her mother or brother when she was four. Four! You might say that she was predisposed to the quality of courage, and she had ample opportunity to discover and grow it.

She also had the safe harbor of one dedicated adult: her grandmother. Her experience reflects a formula for success and resilience we have seen anecdotally in the biographies of great achievers  - people who should have been overcome by life's challenges but instead rose to the challenge and only became stronger. And to these anecdotes, science is providing insight from in the Disciplines of Psychology and NeuroScience:

#1. We must discover the strengths that are inherently within

#2. We learn to meet life’s challenges by expressing them

#3. And this is so, so critical. We do so within a safe harbor, one strong enough, so the challenges test us but do not overwhelm

This is a formula for resilience and for strength at any age. We see these same themes in this story about the rise of the NBA’s latest star in a poignant story from ESPN.

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