Unleash Your Creative Genius

Strengths Lessons from a 4-Year-Old

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Four generations of my family spent a week together sharing a cottage in a remote corner of Quebec. My oldest daughter, her husband and our two grandsons, Evan, 4 years old, and Peter, 20 months old, live in Regina, Saskatchewan. That’s 2,850 kilometres (1740 miles) away, so we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like. The whole family only manages to get together once or twice a year.

I miss them terribly and so I cherish every moment with them. I was delighted to discover the cottage came with access to their two kayaks. On the first morning, I was up early and following breakfast I jumped into the bigger kayak. I’ve only kayaked twice in my life but found I was fairly skilled at it and developed an instant liking for it. To my great delight, my oldest grandson, Evan, also took to kayaking like a duck to water. It became something we could bond over.

Evan’s ease at learning kayaking inspired this post. He exhibited such clear signs of a strength it was a joy to watch. You often ask me how to determine what your strengths are, so I thought I’d use my experience with Evan and kayaking to share the five signs of a strength. Maybe it’ll help you identify your own strengths.

Your Strengths Are Your Path to Success

One of the keys to being a successful Creative Genius is to work with your strengths as much as possible. You may think this is easier said than done. My clients often tell me they’re so busy correcting their mistakes that there is little time to devote to identifying and developing their strengths.

The great news is that it takes much less time to develop your strengths to a high level of ability than is does to improve your weaknesses, even if you’re only trying to achieve mediocrity! Even setting aside a few hours a week to work on developing your strengths will reap great results quickly.

First, you must determine what your strengths are. Many Creative Geniuses fail to recognize the uniqueness of their strengths. When you discover something you’re good at and that comes easily to you, you usually think it must be easy for everyone else as well. Perhaps you’ve struggled so long it’s hard for you to imagine that you could be better at something than other people. Or perhaps you aren’t observing other people closely enough to see that most people struggle to do something that comes easily to you.

Whatever the reason, I invite you to take a different approach. When you find something comes easily to you, suspect a strength.  Then set out to prove that it is indeed a strength. You can do so by looking for these specific signs.

Recognizing Your Strengths

The first sign Evan was exhibiting a strength is the relative ease with which he picked up the new skills. Like most young boys, Evan can be a bit clumsy. But with the kayak, he exhibited very fast learning. With only a few instructions, within 5 minutes, he was paddling around the pond like someone who’d been doing it for months. And he learned each new technique quite quickly.

A second characteristic of a strength is that you yearn to do it. As soon as he set eyes on the little kayak and saw me kayaking on the big one, he wanted to try it. I know, for a four-year-old that’s not unusual – they tend to have unbound curiosity at that age – but every chance he got, Evan wanted to be kayaking. He also yearned to learn more. He was observing me and asking how I was doing each stroke and then he’d attempt it. This brings me to the third characteristic.

Evan, wanted to kayak every chance he got, and he was always interested in learning better ways to do it. His interest was consistent, and he was confident as he attempted each new technique, unafraid of making mistakes. Most four-year-olds quickly become bored with things and can get easily frustrated when they don’t get a technique right the first time. He seemed to know he’d eventually “get it”, so he was willing to continue to work to perfect his skills.

Evan strived for excellence, a fourth characteristic of a strength. He kept asking me to correct him and would follow my advice to the letter, always striving to improve his paddling, or other techniques such as stopping, turning, embarking and disembarking.

Finally, he gained a huge amount of satisfaction from it, the fifth characteristic of a strength. He enjoyed himself a lot.

How Can You Use This?

As an adult, we are often curious about trying new things but we hesitate. We’re afraid of looking foolish if we don’t get it right the first time. Unfortunately, the only way around this is to change your mindset. Worrying what others will think is keeping you from some potentially amazing experiences.

I encourage you to always seek out new experiences. You never know what will lead you to discover a strength. Don’t dismiss any opportunity – it doesn’t matter if it’s “practical” or related to your career. Any strength could help you in your career, but it’s unlikely Evan or I will make a career out of kayaking. However, successful experiences and activities you enjoy make your life more enjoyable. They also allow you to increase your confidence, which can help you in all areas of your life.

If there is something you yearn to try, seek a way to try it:

  1. Ask a friend who does that activity to let you try it.
  2. Take an introductory class or an online course on it.
  3. Read about it.

If you find an activity easy, don’t discount as “it’s easy for me, so it must be easy for others.” Set out to prove it is a strength:

  1. See if your skills grow quickly compared to others. What more can you learn to get better at it? Do that.
  2. Practice and see how much satisfaction you get from it.
  3. Are you consistently performing well?

In a comments box below, share what activity you’re going to experiment with. And enjoy!

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