Living Strong Abroad: The Why Behind it All

We have learned about “what” Strengths are but “why” are they important?

In the last few articles, we’ve talked a bit about how I’ve used my strengths to adapt to living in another country. However, what you may not still know about me is my “why”. Why strengths have been so important to me and why I feel they have a pivotal role in improving our future and creating an environment where we not only look at leadership as a hierarchical model but one that is heart-centered and led from a place of personal responsibility.

I was introduced to the Strengths Psychology in 2003 when a co-worker and friend of mine bought me the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths. When I discovered my talents, I felt like I had finally received a personalized user’s manual on my personality. While none of it was surprising, it gave me the vocabulary I needed to explain myself more effectively. I no longer had to enter an interview and get stuck explaining my outgoing personality as being a “people person.” We all know that that is a pretty ineffective, as well as being a frowned upon, answer. Instead, what I could say was that I have high influencing talents that allow me to be at my best in a collaborative environment where new ideas are appreciated and encouraged; that I need people in order to be at my highest performance level and a conversational exchange is crucial. Sounds a lot better than “people person,” wouldn’t you agree?

My deepest “why” stems at its heart from motherhood. What kind of future do I envision for my little boy, O? How will he lead? How can I set him up for success? And for me, that answer lies in strengths. Allowing him to take advantage of his own unique gifts that he brings into this world and lead from his place of authenticity.

When I watch him, I see Presence in his desire to always be seen, to entertain others and in his super-expressive mannerism and phrases. I see Dependability in his desire to always help out with the sweeping or cleaning up. I see Discoverer in the way he plays with his toys and focuses on every little piece; not playing with them from above, but lying on the ground, eye-level, studying the movements and possibilities.

Did I mention he’s only 3?

Talents don’t show up later in life, they are with us always; some from birth, some from our upbringing. The talents I use to describe him are found in the book, Strengths-Based Parenting and the assessment for younger children, StrengthsExplorer.

So, when we, as parents have not only this opportunity but a responsibility, in my opinion, to use a tool and a language which didn’t exist 20 years ago, why wouldn’t we? Can you imagine all the possibilities and the leaders we could raise? Leaders that see problem-solving with an optimistic eye and that think of long-term and sustainable solutions. Ones that recognize our differences as something positive instead of something negative. I can. And I plan to do my part to ensure it happens.

You can see more about my vision by visiting this link where you will find the English transcript to my TEDx Talk (which was done in Spanish).
In the meantime, if you know your talents, feel free to send me your questions (work, parenting, etc) and I will do my best to address them in upcoming columns.

‘Til next time’¦

Note: The book Now, Discover Your Strengths is no longer in print. The current version, StrengthsFinders 2.0 has replaced it and is available as a free download when you purchase your StrengthsFinder code online. I do not receive any commission for mentioning this.

The amazing O (Photo: Jo Self)



Jo Self is Peru’s only Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and is on a mission to disrupt the status quo and raise a Strengths-Based Generation. She believes in a world where everyone can live to their full potential, talents aren’t wasted & happiness is contagious. As a mompreneur & expat living in Peru, she understands the challenges and rewards that both entail. When she’s not helping others create extraordinary lives, she can be found at the sewing machine, at the movies, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or horsing around with her terribly precocious little boy, affectionately known as O. http://joself.consulting or jo@joself.consulting