Sometimes the right phrase at the right time is like a lightning bolt – even if you’ve heard it before.

This past week at the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education conference in Montreal, one of those catalytic comments hit me. For such an axiom to land like an offer or contribution, it helps to have a background of connection and relatedness with the provider. Natasha Kenny is one of those wonderful souls who I’ve only known peripherally before last week. Because we got to know each other and I got that she was coming from a place of caring, I was open to the deep value of her suggestion to exploit my strengths. (Let’s hold there and I’ll come back to it like a Quentin Tarantino movie.)

I’ve also noticed how difficult it is for people to own their strengths. Last November, I sat with a group of national award-winning teachers and educational leaders and I asked them to speak about what made them great. To a person, they got squirrelly. We are taught to have high self-esteem, but not to appear too confident, or we will be seen as arrogant. A tough sweet spot to find. Minimally, we have to feel and believe our strength internally. By stating, “This is my strength” and by recognizing it and claiming it, I can come from my strength.

For me, everything from Myers-Briggs to soul-typing to the enneagram, has revealed similar features. As much as I would like to have all the skills I see in others, it’s most important to be true to myself. As a high extrovert, with an inborn mission to inspire, whose type is alternately referred to as “The Achiever” or “The Performer,” it ain’t that tricky. It was about 20 years ago when Doug Newburg said, “Billy, your magic is when you’re in front of the room.” At this point I’ve gathered enough evidence to believe him. Although it still causes intestinal caterpillar metamorphosis, I’m able to assert my strengths. So thanks, Natasha, for reminding us to take inventory of what’s great about us and to act from there!

What are your strongest points? What can you do to own them fully? Imagine the sense of peace and purpose that comes from aligning with what’s best about you.

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