The Lifecycle of Strengths

April 2, 2024

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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The Lifecycle of Strengths

Image Credit: Depositphotos

It is the irony of life that, at the start of it, you are expected to know the purpose of it.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question often asked to those of elementary age.

But, in reality, there are people who only discover their strengths in their 40’s, 50’s, or beyond. And that’s okay. Life is an adventure in exploration.

Learning and honing-in on your strengths can be a fascinating, life-long journey.

Early Strengths Phase

It starts when you’re young. Your strengths begin to emerge in a general sense. You will be drawn to certain activities and classes. Common threads begin to weave into the tapestry of your life – threads you may not see until later in life when you look back in reflection.

Developing Strengths Phase

As you move into adolescence, you will begin to develop some of your prominent strengths. You may realize that speaking is a strength, so you take speech classes and join a debate club to hone your skills. You may find that physical activity and teamwork is important and necessary to you, and thus sports would be a way for you to further develop those strengths. For some, music is a passion, and there are almost limitless avenues at this age to develop those strengths.

Experimental Strengths Phase

And then you hit your twenties. You are either there now or remember when you were. Everyone is offering advice for what you should do in life. Unfortunately, it is often based on their experience and strengths, but does not take into account your innate strengths. Perhaps you have known parents who didn’t pursue a certain career, regretted it, and now are convinced that their child should pursue that same career.

Maybe. Maybe not.

One thing is clear. This point in life is experimental. It is common for a young person to drop a class, change a major, or change jobs more frequently than they will later in life. They are trying on different avenues of strengths. And even though there will be educational and vocational experimentation and change, those threads from childhood will begin to emerge with more definition. The play of childhood weaves into the work of adulthood.

Focused Strengths Phase

The next decade brings tighter focus, and at this stage, you will see career development and tighter focus on type of work. Personal and professional development lead to career advancement. This is a period of growth.

Reflection on Strengths Phase

Inevitably, as my dear mentor, Dan Miller, discovered, the forties are a time of change. It is often at this stage that people really begin to see the thread of their strengths and to reflect on how they can use those strengths to serve their highest purpose.

In our strengths discovery process, we call them “Aha!” moments, where we look back at accomplishments, things they have enjoyed doing, and where they became so absorbed in something that they lose track of time – and we discover those common threads. As we work through the exercise, it is exciting to see those “Aha!” moments light up their faces.

With this new realization of strengths, people have gone on to start businesses, advance their careers, or start organizations that help them serve with greater purpose than ever in life.

Leaning on Strengths Phase

As time goes on, the strengths you have given to others come back to sustain you. You see this in families, as parents who gave their strengths to raise their children, begin to see their children bringing their strengths to help the parents.

And you see those who have invested their strengths in the workplace begin to reap the benefits from those investments, in terms of both income and influence.

And, for some, like Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore, you lean into those highly developed strengths to do your biggest work of all.

The Cycle of Strength

Just as there is a circle of life, there is a cycle of strengths. The key is to be aware of your strengths and phases of life so that you are maximizing them at each phase.

  • A wise parent will observe their child’s strengths and give the opportunities for development.
  • An observant teacher or mentor will help to develop those strengths in the adolescent years.
  • A young adult will give themselves grace to experiment with work and opportunities to help define their strengths zone.
  • An adult in the focused phase will understand the need to hone-in and grow their strengths.
  • The 40-something adults will know that purpose is rooted in using their strengths to serve.
  • And those in latter years will come to appreciate a life where they fully developed, explored, and served in those strengths.

There are Maxwell DISC assessments you can take to help you lean into your strengths at each phase of life or to help those you parent, teach, and mentor as they navigate these stages. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, your children, your students, your employees, and all those you care about is to help them discover their strengths.

Action Steps

  1. Consider your early phases of life. What did you enjoy playing as a child? What classes interested you in school? What extracurricular activities did you enjoy?
  2. Think about your career thus far. What types of work did you do? What did you enjoy and not enjoy about each one? What are the common threads?
  3. Reflect on how you can use those strengths to serve others.

If you haven’t already done so, consider taking a strengths assessment today. You’ll find the resources below.

For valuable resources on Discovering Your Strengths, click here.

Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after executive coach, mentor, consultant, and speaker worldwide. Deb is well versed in business operations and in the importance of asking key questions most business leaders won’t ask themselves. She brings deep experience in leadership development, strategy, high performance team building and effective communication. She has a passion for leading people to discover and maximize their strengths as well as those of fellow team members, while offering advanced strategies to achieve high performance. Deb is the perfect fit if you’re ready to take your leadership and impact to the next level!