I am not a teacher, but I have great respect for their positions and their challenges.
I am not an educator in the traditional sense of the word.
I am a mother. My child’s development and well-being mean the world to me; I dedicate myself to knowing all I can and being all I can for him.
I am also a strengths coach: I disrupt the status quo; I question; I innovate. I seek to make the world a better place than the one into which I was born. I seek to live in a world where everyone is able to live to their full potential, talents aren’t wasted, and happiness is contagious.
I believe we, as a global population, are at a tipping point. The language of strengths gives us as parents, educators, and youth leaders an opportunity, and with that opportunity, a responsibility, to guide our children toward their natural success. To become the leaders they were born to be. The leaders we have always wanted. The leaders the world needs.
When I speak of raising our youth to be the leaders we’ve always wanted, I mean to broaden the definition of leadership; leadership which expands from merely hierarchical to a meaning which also reflects personal responsibility and problem solving. With the strengths language, we have a chance to instill in our children a new mindset, one that solves problems through an optimistic lens, creating long-term and sustainable solutions.
When a person understands their strengths and talents, it has the direct benefit of generating a higher self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness, less stress, better communication, better performance and productivity, better relationships, and overall well-being. Now, imagine the power we give our children when we focus on what is right with them instead of what is wrong. Creating a path of least resistance for their development. Changing their “chip” to create a mindset that sees only possibilities, recognizes the best in everyone and allows each person to do what they do best.
What makes me see the real possibility of education and development through a strengths-based model? Success. One of my favorite examples is Leadership Rhode Island’s determined effort to become the country’s first Strengths-Based State. In Gallup’s 2013 Workplace Engagement Survey, Rhode Island came in last place for the entire US, #50 out of 50. In 2014, the population of 1 million was introduced to strengths through various workshops and programs. Only 3 years later, they are at #39. Eleven spots in just three years. If we were to follow that pace, we could see real change in less than 20 years.
I can only imagine that if you are a parent, or someone who has a hand in influencing and teaching our younger generations, that you would want this too. We have a tool that didn’t exist 20 years ago, and personally, I think it would be an incredible shame not to take advantage of what we now know and can communicate through a shared vocabulary.
If that doesn’t sound like hope for our future, I don’t know what does.