Learning to value differences in others is a lot like looking at skyscrapers in the city. Imagine you can only view buildings from the sidewalks, looking up. But one day you are able to stand on the twentieth story of a skyscraper and look out the window. You now see the city from a completely new view.
That’s one of the benefits of learning to identify and value strengths in others: you gain a whole different perspective in addition to your own.
Sight line #1: Expectations
It can be tempting to expect others around you (your team members, your spouse, your family members) to see the world through the same prism you do. But they don’t. Their view, while different, can enrich your own, not detract from it. At the heart of understanding others’ strengths lies a simple principle: expect people to view life differently than you.
Sight line #2: Insecurity
Lack of self-confidence may prevent you from understanding others’ strengths. “How will I measure up? How will I fit in? What if there is not a special role for me?” You may even see others’ strengths as a threat. “If I avoid learning about others’ special gifts,” the thinking goes, “Then I don’t need to acknowledge them.” Some people may even take great lengths to deny or change others so they feel more comfortable with their uniqueness. Don’t be one of them.
Sight line #3: Exclusivity
You may be so convinced that your approach is the “right” way that you discount any other point of view, wrongly thinking your strengths are “best.” Exclusivity automatically assumes that others who don’t share your make up have a deficiency. (They probably think the same thing about you!) Don’t miss out on what others have to offer.
Sight line #4: Awareness
You may not even be aware of your personal strengths and differences – or uncertain about how to use them. Your perspective is shaped by a unique combination of environment, experiences, and natural strengths. So is the view of everyone around you.
Tap into theirs. By understanding others’ strengths, you’ll see more than just skyscrapers from the sidewalk. You’ll get a good view of the whole city.
Understanding others’ strengths expands your perspective.
Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it. (Proverbs 16:22, NIV)
- Consider a co-worker, spouse, or a family member. In what ways might you inadvertently expect that person to view things the same way you do?
- How can valuing another person’s strengths actually build your self-confidence, rather than diminish it?
- What is the next step you can take to gaining a deeper awareness of your own strengths?