What’s the difference between working from your strengths and being in your genius?
STRENGTHS: These are the things we do well.
You may manage others well by being a great listener and organizer. You may be great at designing things and creating innovative solutions. Your strengths come to you easily, naturally, and you don’t need to put much effort into them.
Psychological researchers have created many scientifically based assessments that can measure skills and even provide insights on a person’s behavior, work style, and interpersonal style. A few of my favorites include DISC, The Perceptual Style Assessment, The Kolbe Index, Strengths Finder, and Talent Dynamics. They provide great reports that provide plenty of steps for you to take. For instance, if you aren’t the best listener or tend to gloss over details, the assessments will point that out and give you tips to develop those skills. Or if you’re naturally great at motivating people, it will show how to best utilize that to gather support for a project or idea.
Now let’s talk about GENIUS. Genius is, according to the dictionary, is “an exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability.”
Your genius is made up of uncanny abilities. I see it as your strengths PLUS your inner drive. In addition to your smarts, it taps into your values, your life path, and your purpose.
There’s something key about genius that differentiates it from strengths. Strengths can actually be learned. If you’re not a great listener, you can be trained to be a better listener. But genius… it’s more mysterious than that. You can’t teach it. You just have it. And the great news is that EVERYONE holds genius in them. It’s just a matter of looking.
Here’s an example of how I help people see their genius.
Whenever I give a talk, I can always find at least 2 people who do the same kind of work. Let’s say they’re both leadership trainers.
They can have similar skill strengths: great facilitators, great listeners, great at reflecting feedback.
But let’s take it a step deeper and look at what makes them genius.
Genius is the natural brilliance you have.
It’s a reflection of what you were born with, your values, your life journey, the ups and downs that you personally have dealt with. Those are things that shape who you are from the inside out.
When you overlay this unique path on your strengths, then you get a better idea of your genius.
What makes you special? What makes you unique? What makes you indispensable?
So when we look at these two leadership trainers, we find something out.
One has a more analytical mind, fascinated by systems, structures, and sequences. She was an excellent student and went to a top university on a full ride scholarship. She learned early on that hard work paid off. She holds firm values around work ethic, integrity, and accomplishment. When it comes to staying on task, she’s an absolute genius. She’s just wired that way. You can’t learn that in school.
The other has a life story filled with change and transition. His parents divorced when he was young, he moved cross country at the age of 11, and he shared a house with a large extended family. This experience instilled the values of family, community, adaptability, and resilience. Those values make up his genius and add to the skill based strengths.
Now, let’s see how this can apply to your life. I’m assigning you an exercise as your Daily Change Up. This is an invitation for you to integrate the lesson from this episode and put it into your day to day life.
THE DAILY CHANGE UP:
Make a list of your natural strengths. Think of things you do well that come easily to you. Spend a bit of time listing them out and don’t hold back. The minute you start discounting something that comes easily to you is a sign that you’re undervaluing yourself.
Next, reflect back on your life journey. How have your personal experiences and values impacted your strengths? How do they make you a stronger leader, innovator, and changemaker? Have you had life defining moments that woke up a sense of resilience you didn’t know you had? What’s unique and fascinating about all you bring to the table?
You’d be surprised to learn how incredibly unique your genius is. It’s a bigger equation than the sum of your strengths or things you do well. It’s your strengths PLUS the inner drive that guides you to do the things you do. It taps into your values, life path, inner wisdom, and spirit.
Now go live it.