Strengths in the Time of COVID…

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The one sure bet we can all make regarding our Strengths is that they are always at work!  They live and breathe in us.  We see them cropping up when we are at our best and at our worst. At a future event, Valerie and I will dig deep on the concept of balconies and basements. In short, we are “in our balconies” when we are using our Strengths in the best possible ways. These are times when our Strengths are propelling us to new heights, when we are helping others with our Strengths, and when we are feeling in the flow…

We talk about being “in the basement” when our Strengths are showing, but these are times when we are not using them for good, to prosper, and to help others. Like an unruly child, our basement behaviors are when we allow our Strengths to run amok.  But that’s a deeper conversation for another day…

So, what about COVID? Did you see evidence of your Strengths during the lockdown? Were you at your best and letting them shine through like a beacon of light? Or were you in your basement? Were your lesser Strengths called upon? How did you cope with that?

Leanne’s Thoughts

For me, my Top Five are: Maximizer, Strategic, Positivity, Ideation, and WOO… First, I used my Maximizer and Strategic to try to make my life better and more organized. My home can always use some love!  Since we have been renovating, there is a lot of disarray on the home front, and being grounded by the pandemic provided me with some additional time to make a dent in some of the chaos. My Maximizer says, “Let’s make this situation better!”

My Strategic was using the mental image of a tidy, organized home to help me to see the various paths to get there. The garage is often a trouble spot, so I spent a lot of time creating “giveaway” piles to get rid of everything we don’t need. A friend who is in charge of collecting items for donations to help refugees took our surplus items away to new homes. After a few tedious Saturdays, I am proud to say you can now dance in my garage. Hooray!

On the organizing front, since my Discipline is my dead last Strength of the 34, I have a tendency to start a particular organizing project, get distracted, and move along before it is complete. So, I am still working on my follow through with certain parts of organizing…but did I mention my garage is looking amazing? When I pulled in family members to share the duties, we made great progress!

As a Positivity

I am struck by the blessings this pandemic has brought. I don’t want to diminish the difficulties of those who have been sick or died or those who have lost income, their businesses, or other terribly devastating challenges. However, as someone who has not suffered a “direct hit,” in the ways mentioned above, I feel incredibly grateful for the increased family time we are enjoying during this time. I am grateful that we are all still well and for being able to hit the “pause” button and get moving on some of the neglected areas of life.

I’m also grateful that Mother Nature has been able to also take a breather and have been amazed by the photos that emerged from places where pollution is such a big problem. I wonder how residents in those places feel that they can breathe easy and see things that were formerly hidden by smog. What a wonder!

As a WOO (Winning Others Over)

Not being able to congregate, chat up clerks in stores or the worst—being blunted from hugging people!—has been particularly challenging for me, and probably a whole host of other WOOs out there!  We are naturally wired to want to connect with others, meet them, and hear their stories (and tell a few of our own…). The separation has been a challenge for me. However, I have Adaptability pretty high up in my list, so I have been able to adapt to the changing regulations and in the organization where I provide consulting services, I have been keeping others in the organization updated. With this group, I have been using my Ideation to think of ways to creatively stay connected and to keep the mission of the organization moving forward.

Valerie’s Thoughts

I would venture a guess that our coping mechanisms are directly tied to our Strengths. How we are naturally wired to think, feel, and behave influences the way we react to everyday situations.  So it stands to reason that those same patterns of behavior would be especially evident in a crisis as well. The various ways people responded during COVID-19 is a good case in point. As I reflect back over the past 3 months, I can see vivid examples of my top talents in action.  

Talents kick in and suffer

As soon as the quarantine started, my Maximizer talent kicked in. My first thought was “how can we make the most of this downtime?” I then proceeded to keep my Learner talent very happy by signing up for all kinds of webinars and listening to one business podcast after another. Restorative and Ideation are at the bottom of my list of 34 talents, so fixing things that are broken and coming up with innovative ideas are not my strong suit. Thus, I knew that learning from and brainstorming with others would help inspire me to find paths forward in our new normal. 

I also knew that my Achiever talent would suffer if I didn’t find ways to satisfy my need to constantly be productive and fill my days with accomplishments of some sort. So, I started Spanish classes on Duolingo (I’m on day 109!!!).  And used my Discipline talent to finally stick to an at-home workout program. 

In addition, I lead with Relationship Building so my Empathy, Relator, and Individualization talents went into overdrive. I made a list of people to check on and send regular texts to; called people I hadn’t spoken to in a while; and hosted weekly Zoom calls with different groups of friends to stay connected to them and help those that I knew would be struggling with the isolation. 

I had dark days like everyone else

When the monotonous routine, lack of future events to look forward to, and fear for the safety of my NJ/NY family and friends got to me. Luckily, my Positivity (and venting to my husband) wouldn’t let me stay down for long.  It still keeps me believing that there are good things to come. 

We hope you were able to catch our first #StrengthsSaturday last week. We discussed the big picture of using Strengths and being able to get more out of life by leveraging your Strengths. If you didn’t catch it, please feel free to watch the recorded version!

For July’s #StrengthSaturday, please consider the questions we have been contemplating above. How did COVID pull from the top or bottom of your Strengths Profile?  See if you can answer the questions, “How did your Top 5 show up during the quarantine? Did any of your lesser talents get in your way? Can you use any of those takeaways to help you face future challenges? “

We so look forward to chatting live about this in July! Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you then!

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Leanne Burnett’s Bio: Leanne is a Gallup-trained Strengths Coach and Human Resources Consultant who has been inspired by the transformative power of Strengths! She and Valerie specialize in team-building seminars, and she also provides one-on-one coaching using the Strengths model. Her specialties are: Executive Coaching, Business Issue Coaching, Personal Life Coaching, Employee Engagement, and Using Strengths for Conflict Resolution.   Leanne’s former positions include:  Head of Human Resources for a pharmaceutical development company in Charlotte; Director of Human Resources for a financial service firm in Chicago; and she also worked as a Litigation Consultant for an Intellectual Property Consulting firm.   Leanne is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she studied Accounting and Philosophy. In addition to her Gallup training, Leanne trained with Coaches Training Institute. Leanne leads the Living Your Strengths and Strengths Coaching Ministries at the largest Catholic parish in the country.    Leanne’s Top Five Talent Themes are: Maximizer, Strategic, Positivity, Ideation and WOO (Winning Others Over) Valerie Menzel’s Bio: Valerie is a Gallup-trained Strengths Coach as well as a corporate team leader and developer of people. Her specialties include: Team-Building Seminars, One-on-One Coaching and Customized Interpersonal Strengths Sessions. ​ Valerie’s work experience includes hosting and producing television shows, public speaking, voiceover work, managing outreach for one of the nation’s most respected nonprofits and 15 years of producing photo shoots and managing the Creative Planning department of a Fortune 500 cosmetics company.   Valerie graduated Summa Cum Laude from James Madison University with degrees in Communications and Theatre. In addition to Strengths coaching, she serves on the Living Your Strengths Advisory Board and volunteers at the largest Catholic Church in the country as the on-camera host of MATTtV, a lector, and the Co-Chair of Moving On After Moving In, a nationwide support group that helps women in transition. ​ Valerie’s Top Five Talent Themes are: Maximizer, Empathy, Harmony, Developer, Achiever

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