You never know where wisdom is going to come from! Just as I was about to switch off the television to avoid watching a gardening show, I heard the interviewer ask the guest gardener a very intriguing question. He said, “Other people’s flowers last a couple of months at best, but your garden seems to last forever. How do you manage to have flowers that are always in bloom?” Without missing a beat, the master gardener replied, “Oh, that’s easy. I plant new seeds every two weeks.” I laughed out loud at the simple wisdom of her answer. But, of course! The secret was not in any magic or genetically-modified super-seeds, but rather in the application of consistent and persistent human effort.
Just like the wise gardener, if we want our strengths and talents to continually flower and grow, we too must continually plant new seeds. In the world of strengths development, planting new seeds means regularly taking actions such as talking about our strengths with others, helping others identify their own areas of strength, looking for new ways and new places to apply our strengths, volunteering our strengths to help others, and seeking out ways to improve upon our strengths and take them to the next level.
Most of us, me included, tend to be a little more like the well-meaning interviewer. We expect perpetual blooms from a single planting…and we are looking for magic seeds! We read one book on strengths, or maybe take one particular strengths assessment…and then we wonder why nothing has really changed for us. The reality is that developing our strengths is a lifelong practice that we will never finish, and this is actually very good news. Positive psychologists have identified the on-going use and development of personal strengths as one of the essential components of happiness, engagement, creativity, resilience and overall well-being. Consequently, my wish for you is that you never-ever-ever get finished developing your strengths since it is one of the surest steps to a happy and fulfilling life.
So let’s stop looking for those magic seeds that will give us instant and permanent results and instead start enjoying the process of growing our strengths with small steps that we can take every day.
What new strengths seeds will you plant today?
If you have never taken a strengths assessment before, here are two great ones to try:
Values in Actions (VIA) Survey: https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register
Clifton StrengthsFinder: http://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Purchase