I have been delivering strengths focus and strengths learning sessions for over five years and it never ceases to amaze me when people feedback the shock of acknowledgement from other people around them. More often than not, people become overly surprised when a list of strengths is perceived inside of them from people who they have only just met. And so my explanation helps them to contextualise this realisation that, when you move through this world, you wear a ‘cloak’ of your strengths whether you are aware of it or not. These strengths are you, what you are about, what values you hold close, what you feel is important, and how you respond to fellow travellers in this world we share. It’s a big recognition I admit. And it’s beautiful to see that shock assimilate in a safe and welcoming emnvironment. In particular when some says “I have never been told these things about myself before” This of course relates to the people who have been involved in their life but also, the person themself. How can we recognise such awesomeness within ourselves when we cannot recognise it in the people around us? Every person has strengths. Every person has something of value to offer the community. Every person has something to give in a relationship which you might share.
Every person has an engaging story to tell
Recently, at the completion of a learning session around relationships, boundaries, support services, and self-care, it was apparent that we had spent some time as a group, inadvertently immersed in discussing the nature of a non-supportive “system”. At times like this I always like to balance the equation and return something strength-based or hopeful and especially, at the closing of the session. This time I asked if the group would humour me as I had found something I desperately wanted to share with them and that I thought they would find inspiring. I read them out loud, the greater part of a mission statement of a non profit organisation
The vision is that we actually believe these things:
You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live in relationship with other people, to know and to be known. You need to know your story is important, and you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know your life matters.
We live in a difficult world, a broken world. We believe everyone can relate to pain, all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.
We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty, but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments, and seasons, and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real and help is real.
Beyond treatment, we believe community is essential. People need other people. We were never meant to do life alone.
The vision is that community, hope and help would replace secrets and silence.
The vision is people putting down guns, and blades, and bottles.
The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.
The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.
The vision is hope, and hope is real.
You are not alone and this is not, the end of your journey
While I read aloud for myself having truly been desperate to share such an incredible directive, the group reaction was nothing short of profound. People were deeply moved, their hearts became visible, their postures enhanced, there was hope and connection in that room. And this ‘statement’ fits me like a glove given that I facilitate all my material in the context we affectionately refer to as LIFE. One participant thanked me in writing for the “no bullshit” approach I use in delivering my work. To see such a raw and genuine mission statement is awe inspiring.
And so when Lazy boy sings of Max Ermann’s poem Desiderata
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle to yourself. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, It is still a beautiful world
I must concur. I have to remind people often, after discussions around the inadequecies and pitfalls of current practices, that we are moving.
Albeit in small and sometimes indistinguishable steps, we are moving
And while we are moving, we are expanding and that after all, is the very essence of what we are here to do.
When we, when you, take the time to embrace your own courage and say yes, I can see and feel that which simmers beneath my physical appearance and accept readily, I have strengths to offer, then we will move even more. Faster, more bravely, and with love and commitment to a better world for those who are Rebels now, and those who are soon to be. Next time you stop and appreciate a quality in someone else, take equal time to appreciate a similar sterngth within your whole, amazing, and beautiful self, you may be overly surprised!
Thank you for being here, whatever your reason for doing so you have already made a difference.
Ermann, M, 1927, DESIDERATA, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desiderata