Health and wellbeing

Developing signature strengths

We all have our unique talents. Things that make us stand out from the crowd. Things that make and shape our individual identities. It’s important for everyone to hold onto that special characteristic, whether that be physical, mental, social or even spiritual. Whatever your signature strength is, identify it and nurture it. It’s there to show you just how different we all are: no two snowflakes are the same and life is just like that. No matter how hard we might try, we cannot become someone else. At school, we are often advised to revise in this way, carry out practicals using this method, speak in a certain manner – but all of this is there to guide you, so that once you’ve got the gist of things, you start to develop your own ideas about things. Everyone starts from somewhere: babies start walking step-by-step, we start topics bit-by-bit, we play pieces note-by-note; it’s all about how these things come together at the end: notes make beautiful music, small steps eventually lead to giant leaps, and learning bit-by-bit should allow you to reach the goals you want to achieve. But without that determination, without that extra nudge from deep within us, we can’t accomplish anything. Failing to believe in yourself means believing you will fail, and that’s not how it should be.

By having individual strengths, we are all motivated to do what we want to do in certain ways: it could be that you are a born-musician, or even a talented sculptor. You could be a “child genius”, or even someone who is regarded as “weird”. People describe us by comparing themselves to us; if we fit their image of a “teenage boy” or a “young adult”, then they approve of what we do. However, start thinking or acting beyond this and you’ll come across as “odd”, “egoistic”, or even “dumb”. But we’ve got to remember: life’s too short to be a tool for comparison. You don’t need to listen to others and expect everyone to like you: your individual strengths are there to support you, keep you going, help you keep your chin up. So, always have that extra bit about you – teachers will always say “you need to stand out when applying for a job or university”, and they’re right, to an extent. But I would also add: we need to develop unique aspects that define us throughout our lives: if you are a business-minded person, keep that with you and develop that skill: you’ll need the ability to judge and decide for almost everything you do. If you are a keen linguist, learn as many languages as you can: there shouldn’t be any problems when you’re on holiday!

“What is different about you that no one else can do?” is a question that I think we all need to prepare the answer for. This might take two minutes, or maybe longer, depending on how you see yourself. Remember, you can never be pleased by what you do until you’re pleased with what you’ve done or where you’ve come to in life, and I think we all need to have that special something about us that will make us say “This is who I am”.

Author: Hasnain Jafer