noun. the quality or state of being physically strong; the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.
What does being strong mean to you?
Being strong, to me, means having the resources ie the mental skills, and the physical capabilities to overcome difficulties. When I am strong, I have enough in my tank to face a challenge. My strength, underpinned by my energy and my stamina, enables me to act as I have reserves of physical energy and inner strength to draw from.
What do I associate with strength?
As a former English teacher, I love words. Words we associate with strength include: clout, courage, durability, energy, power, stability, toughness and vigor. These are all traits I admire in others, but that I know I also possess.
I reflect often on my formative years and what life experiences have made me a strong individual. My parents gave me a character education in how they brought my sister and I up, grit was part of our daily diet so it made us resilient individuals.
It always surprises me how many of my friends and the people who I coach do not recognise how strong and resilient they are. We all overcome battles, personally and professionally, but some people do have more challenges thrown at them. We often downplay what we have been through and how we have survived, coming out the other sides as stronger individuals.
What are the different types of strength?
Physically, I am healthy and I have a strong frame. I am not as fit as I would like to be, which would make me even stronger, but I have physical strength.
Mentally, I am strong as I am determined and tenacious. My strength of character enables me to stand up for myself.
Emotionally, I have strength as I am resilient and courageous. My values and ethics drive my emotional strength.
How can we develop our inner strength?
Knowing our strengths helps us to be aware of and to harness them. Through my training as a Resilient Leaders Elements consultant coach, I have spent the last 6 months reflecting on my strengths and areas for development. As part of the process you self-assess to identify your strengths across 4 elements (Clarity of Direction, Awareness, Leadership Presence and Resilient Decision-Making) and 12 facets (Strategic Intent, Unifying Purpose, Determination, Self, Others, Environment, Authentic, Serving, Intentional, Creative, Robust, Versatile).
Following the self-assessment you reflect on your strengths and identify your areas for development. You then work through a series of challenges to build strength across the other facets. Alongside this you can see feedback from others which then gives you a visual of how you are seen to compare to how you see yourself.
This process has really enabled me to hone in on where I have impact and where I can optimise my influence.
How have I developed my inner strength over time?
I read a really good article this morning which gives 9 tips on developing your inner strength. I will reflect on each point they made in the article here.
- Start with Why – since reading and watching Simon Sinek I have had a heightened clarity of what I do, how I do it and why I do it. This has also made my communication clearer.
- Put Yourself First – as a teacher, a Middle Leader and a Senior Leader I was not very good at self-care. As I left the system I am prioritising self-care and reinforcing my boundaries.
- Train Your Mental and Emotional Body – coaching has really helped me realise how strong I am.
- Decide, Commit and Act – having conviction in my steps to be active and not passive enables me to bring to life what I believe in.
- Don’t Let Fear Dictate Your Decisions – having the courage to do what is right drives me, and reframing the things that might hold be back, ensures I keep moving forwards.
- Embrace What Scares You – not much scares me, but there are things that make me uncomfortable. I have consciously embraced getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- De-clutter Your Mind – making lists has always been a way for me to organise my thoughts but reflective writing has become an outlet for me in processing what I am thinking and feeling.
- Become Your Own Best Friend – practising what I preach is a way to hold myself to account. I often say to people, talk to yourself as you would a friend. Showing myself the kindness, empathy and compassion I show to others has become an intentional act of self-love.
- Practise Calm in Adversity – being a swan, is something I have grown into. As someone who is a high energy, I can often be on high alert, thus reacting and responding with energy. Practising the power of the pause, and working on my filters – facially and verbally – are strengths I have developed over time.
Why do we need more strong leaders?
I admire leaders who are strong. For me, strong leaders are compassionate and empathetic – their strength comes through the courage of their convictions. One of my sheroes is Jacinda Ardern who embodies this style of leadership for me. I wish more of our politicians in the UK could be the strong leaders that our country needs – leaders with integrity, humility, compassion and courage to do the right thing.
I think the greatest weakness of leaders who are strong in the wrong way, is their inability to be vulnerable and authentic.
We are all strong. We just don’t all know it.
We have all overcome things. We just don’t all reflect on it.
We all have strengths. We just don’t all lead with them.
Some questions to encourage some personal reflection
- How often do you celebrate your strengths rather than critique your areas for growth?
- How often do you reflect on what has made you strong (er)?
- What are your greatest personal strengths?
- How can you harness your inner strengths?