Unleashing Your Natural Strengths

By Linda-Ross Vega and Gary M Jordan

Have you ever noticed that it’s all too easy to focus on your shortcomings rather than your strengths?Focusing on what we lack is rooted in a psychological phenomenon known as negativity bias, a survival mechanism inherited from our ancestors. It causes us to prioritize negative input over positive input. We tend to remember criticism more vividly than praise and give negative feedback more weight. 

This focus on our shortcomings can lead to feelings of frustration and exhaustion as we relentlessly chase what we believe needs fixing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you shift your focus towards your natural strengths, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll feel.

The Benefits of Embracing Your Natural Strengths

Research has shown that people who value and utilize their strengths are happier, feel more grounded, and enjoy more success. By focusing on your strengths, your perceived shortcomings take a back seat, allowing you to thrive in various aspects of life.  The key to uncovering your strengths is to understand your perception!

The Role of Perception

Perception is the process of interpreting the different sensations you receive to make meaning of the world around you. It’s how you turn data gathered through your senses into meaningful information about the world. Perception is at the core of who you are. 

The first step in perception involves your five senses—sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Each sense sends signals to your brain. Your brain collects all the raw data and combines it into a contextual message. 

Next, your brain makes meaning of the input from your senses by applying a filter. We call this your perceptual style. It helps you determine what’s important and deserving of your attention. Your perceptual style provides a starting point for action, jump-starting your understanding and decision-making. Perception doesn’t stop with input from your senses and filtering by your perceptual style. There’s one more step. 

Life experience plays a critical part in the process of perception because it adds validation. Your brain compares your perception to what you’ve known to be true in the past. Similar past experiences may influence your perception of the present moment, while new and unfamiliar situations can expand your perception.

How you see the world has everything to do with your natural strengths

Natural skills and abilities are directly tied to perceptual style. That’s because you naturally see the things associated with your perceptual style. Those things are easy for you to grasp, understand, and use.  There are six perceptual styles. You were born with yours. Each style has an extensive set of natural skills and potential – so many, in fact, it’s impossible to develop all of them in one lifetime!

While your natural skills are the most important ones for you to develop and own, everyone also develops acquired skills—these are skills that aren’t aligned with your perceptual style but are necessary for your survival. We learn acquired skills because they must be done, either because our parents, teachers, or others in authority tell us we must do them or because there’s no one else in our circle of friends and family who can, and someone has to step up, or they are just life skills we must have even though they are not part of our natural skill repertoire.

You can get very good at obtaining acquired skills. But they always take more focus and more energy than natural skills. In fact, with natural skills, the joy is in the doing; with acquired skills, the joy is in the accomplishment, in being done.  The trick with acquired skills is to use them to augment your natural skills, not as the skills to build your life around. 

Natural skills are often taken for granted

The things that come easily to us often don’t seem like any big deal because they are aligned with our perceptual style. They fit how we make meaning and take action in the world. They feel natural and congruent with who we are. In fact, we often assume everyone must be able to do them because they are so easy for us. But, your natural skills and abilities are your unique gifts—the things you are destined to excel at if you choose.

Three Easy Steps to Embrace Your Natural Strengths

You may not know much about your perceptual style yet, but you can begin to lean into your natural skills today with three easy steps:

Step #1: Take a moment to jot down two or three things that friends, co-workers, or family have complimented you on—things you genuinely enjoy doing. Trust your instincts without overthinking or dismissing something just because it seems effortless.

Step #2: Be aware of opportunities in the next two weeks to use these strengths more often. Acknowledge your enjoyment and capability when you put them into practice. Increased awareness of these skills will lead to personal satisfaction and growth, much like exercising and strengthening a muscle.

Step #3: Your natural capabilities aren’t true strengths until you value them. Celebrate your strengths, the compliments you receive, and the newfound confidence that arises when you fully embrace your natural potential. By doing so, you’ll uncover hidden abilities and talents you may not have known you possessed. By acknowledging and focusing on your strengths, you can break free from the shackles of negativity bias and thrive in multiple aspects of your life.  Embracing your natural abilities is a transformative journey that leads to personal growth, increased confidence, and more fulfillment. So, why wait? Start claiming your natural strengths today!

Lynda-Ross Vega and Gary M. Jordan, PhD, are the creators of Perceptual Style Theory™ and authors of the book Unlock the Power of Your Perception. Visit them at https://www.yourtalentadvantage.com