Strengths for tolerance in a complex world



“If you think your talents are simply for you to make a lot of money, retire, and die, you’ve missed the point of your life.” -- Rick Warren

Today we face overwhelming, and complex political and social problems. We see the deep disagreements among us and shake our heads. We may feel completely perplexed by it all. We see a world of problems. We see people in deep disagreements on how to solve these problems. We wonder how in this world to make things better.

Our strengths matter in making a better world. They shape how we look at problems and quite likely how we define solutions. They drive our actions. They complement the strengths of those around us in solving those problems.

Understanding strengths might be key to help us break down barriers. We can learn to appreciate that someone else’s point of view, their unique approach to problems, the way they express their ideals may very well lie in their unique blend of strengths!

I had an aha moment about how our unique strengths shape our responses in the world. I attended a leadership training class where we were presented with a story. Each character was challenged in the situations in the story and made different choices which ultimately affected the story’s outcome. I was stunned when we shared answers about which character we thought was wrong or right in the story. I thought the answer was obvious, until I realized everyone saw the characters’ behaviors in a different light. This did not make our responses, or theirs, right or wrong, just different.

Since I am a connector and relator I expected and wanted the characters to behave like I would. I tend to see boundaries between people as fluid and look for a bigger picture in every situation. Others might take a more focused and pragmatic approach. I also don’t abide much by predefined titles and want people to see each other as friends. Others are most comfortable with clearly delineated responsibility and are highly action oriented. This didn’t mean my way of looking at the situation was the only way to respond. Or the only right answer.

Our strengths can shape how we think and react to our world. Being mindful of our own strengths makes us happier, more successful, and better able to achieve our goals, but strengths insights also help us better understand and accept each other. This can change things for the good. Our collective strengths make up the bigger picture and help us work together. It’s up to all of us to make our little patch of the universe a better place and embracing this blend of strengths can help us create a more tolerant one.

Are you ready? A more mindful sense of the diversity of strengths in this world, rather than seeing differences as right and wrong, might help change everything.

Denise McLaughlin is a retired marketing director pursuing her lifelong love of art, history, and volunteerism. Shortly after early retirement, she was introduced to StrengthsFinder through her friendship with her soon to be mentor Nermine Zakhary. After an intense corporate career, Denise was ready to find what was waiting for her in a new life. Her top five are Connectedness, Relator, Intellection, Responsibility, and Discipline. With faith , a readiness to be curious, expect the unexpected, and make a difference, she is now on the board of directors for a local arts group, a history museum docent, a certified volunteer genealogist, and active supporter of Meals on Wheels. She loves to paint, read, dig in the garden, care for her family and enjoy long walks along the beautiful Erie Canal.

Photo Credit: © Amenic181 | Dreamstime.com - Coffee

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