What stories do you tell about your strengths?

I’m currently studying to become a Certified Story Coach, because as I have learned through experience and study, the stories we tell ourselves are the key to unearthing our worth. They also contain the keys to who we are, what we do, and why we do it. One of the first questions we learned to ask of ourselves and others in class was this: What story are you telling yourself?

I was teaching a workshop on the Secrets of the Hidden Job Market last weekend. One of the participants looked me straight in the eye and said, “How am I supposed to find a new job when I have no skills.” A few minutes later she said it again, “I’m over 40 and I don’t have any skills. What am I supposed to do?” This is by far the most directly anyone has ever articulated this thought to me. Most often I hear variations:

“I don’t know what I have to offer a new company.”

“I can’t change directions, because I can’t do anything else but this.”

“I’m just like everyone else who does this. Nothing sets me apart.”

If you have ever had these thoughts, I want to ask you, “What story are you telling yourself about that?” or more to the point, “What story are you telling yourself about the strengths and skills you do have?”

Martha told a story that everyone could do what she did, that everyone who did her job, was exactly like her.

William told a story that his strengths and skills were unique to a single career. They wouldn’t be of any use or value in a different career path.

Rhonda told a story that while she had developed strengths, and skills, it had taken her 20 years to do so. She really didn’t want to start over. Rhonda told herself that it takes decades to develop any sort of useful strengths and skills that would be of value to an employer.

Are these stories true? What do you think?

Martha realized that, in fact, no two people are alike. And therefore, no two people would perform a job in exactly the same way. She began to see that her strengths and skills and passions were a unique set that she alone brought wherever she went. She had something special to offer potential employers. Martha now believed she had options.

William realized that strengths and skills are not confined to just one use. In fact, he found examples where he’d used his strengths and skills in many different situations, outside of work. When he realized that, he knew that he could find another career where his strengths and skills would transfer. With some effort, he could probably find another career where he could bring to bear his favorite strengths and skills (the ones he loved to use). William began to see possibility.

Rhonda also began to see that the strengths and skills she had spend years cultivating would benefit other employers, for other jobs and other careers. She realized that they were hers, not the companies, and that she, too, had options and possibilities.

Martha, William, and Rhonda began to tell themselves new stories about their strengths and skills. These new stories created a sense of hope and possibility, and allowed them to see options they didn’t even know existed before.

What are the stories you tell yourself about your strengths and skills? Are they limiting you or helping you see possibilities? I’d love to hear your stories on my blog below.


5 comments to What stories do you tell about your strengths?

  • Monica

    Thanks for the insightful blogs. I recently stepped away from 13 yrs of teaching (very discontented) into a training position in the “real” world. I was excited, because I was learning and using new elearning software, creating training material, etc. We were just informed that our business will be closing at the end of November. WHAT?!!!!

    I have been reading and working through your posts and I have “unearthed” some interesting things about myself. I have also had something that has been tugging at my heart for a long time, so I am pursung that. Keep up the wonderful posts.

    • Thank you Monica for sharing your story. Congratulations on moving toward work that excites you, and that tugs at your heart. I would love to hear more about your personal journey as it unfolds.


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