Leadership of people begins with a leader who knows themselves and can cultivate the strengths in others. Personal and professional growth occurs when time is spent reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses. Marshall (2011) states, “your daily reflection might include where you improved trust, how you promoted respect, where you feel pride, and what happened to instill joy. From your reflection can also emerge your sense of direction” (p. 29). As a person and as a leader, it is essential to have a mission or purpose for your life.
Taking the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment provided definitive insight into my personality. The top 5 signature themes of talent that were dominant in my life are learner, developer, input, empathy, and belief. Each of these themes resounded with my observations and further enlightened my understanding of who I am. As a lifelong learner, the goal has never been to finish but to be continually learning something new every day. By being a life-long learner, it increases self-esteem, satisfaction with personal development, reduces negative emotions, and is part of a pursuit to a meaningful and better life (Lee, 2016). This strength ties into my other strengths of input and developer. Empathy, however, is a fundamental skill for getting through life that many individuals are never able to actualize. For me, empathy is the ability I experience to share in and understand other’s lives (Cameron et al., 2019). This strength pairs well with belief. I have a firm belief in people and in their ability to show resiliency and experience growth in their lives. In order to have a belief, empathy has to be present.
Values, Strengths, and Characteristics
Values that are important in my life are deep relationships and being a life-long learner. Being a person that pays attention to the thoughts and feelings of others; I find it easy to move past superficial conversations quickly to really get to know someone. Working in the Emergency Department, I have found this skill very helpful. By peeling away the small talk in order to help my patients, I can discover their thought patterns and help them better. This skill helps with the value of being a life-long learner. I believe you can learn something from everyone you meet. These experiences help you to grow as an individual and professionally.
Strengths are not necessarily skills. Often, I heard it said that my strength is being able to start an IV. That is a skill, whereas strength is something inherent to who I am. I believe I have insight into people’s emotions and vulnerabilities. I notice people, their body language, sense their moods, and adapt accordingly to help them feel comfortable. This leads to my second strength, and that is an ability to make people feel comfortable and heard. People are most comfortable around others who can relate with them and reassure them that their pain is real.
Lastly, there are characteristics that I would like to strengthen in myself. I have always been able to listen to others, but I desire to be more present in my daily life by working on being an active listener. Actively looking to listen instead of talk or provide reassurance. I also desire to have a lasting positive impact on people. In order to do this, I need to be in a good place emotionally, physically, cognitively, and spiritually. This means making time to be refreshed outside of the work environment. It is said that empty people cannot help empty people. As future nurse practitioners, I believe this is one of the hardest and yet most important things we can do to show others the value of rest.
Cameron, C. D., Hutcherson, C. A., Ferguson, A. M., Scheffer, J. A., Hadjiandreou, E., & Inzlicht, M. (2019). Empathy is hard work: People choose to avoid empathy because of its cognitive costs. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 148(6), 962-976. doi:/10.1037/x.xge0000595
Lee, S. (2016). Lifelong learning as a path to happiness? Adult Education & Development, 83, 68-73. Retrieved from https://ezp.waldenlibrary.org/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=121879727&site=eds-live&scope=site
Marshall, E. (2011). Transformational Leadership in Nursing. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company, LLC.