Your Greatest Strength

“The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” – Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson was a world-renowned German-American developmental psychologist and is known for his theory on psychological development of human beings. He’s probably most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis. He also happens to really resemble Albert Einstein – must’ve been popular to have flowing white hair in Germany in the 30’s and 40’s.

There is something wonderfully simple and true in this quote above. In knowing the cracks and crevices of yourself first, you will be infinitely more patient and understanding in watching others detect theirs. The primary outcome of knowing yourself is gaining an understanding of what makes you tick. You begin to learn where you have real influence and value to add… and where you fall flat and desperately need help from others. You see how you analyze and solve problems; how you choose to take risks or avoid them; how you care for those you love; and so much more. Knowing yourself can also be a painful process. We spend a lot of time running from what we’re afraid of, hammering a wall that won’t crack, and desperately avoiding becoming someone else (fill in your own blank here on who that may be for you). However, there’s hope – and a lot of it!

Committing to know yourself also makes you a very powerful asset to your family, your business, your community… and simply yourself. There is so much less to fear when you are willing to be completely open with your successes and failures. There is also less to lose. When you know yourself, you are grounded to something more than a frantic day at the office or a whirlwind at home. The security and confidence of self-awareness will precede you wherever you go.

The greatest part of this understanding is the grace you can then extend to those around you. You’ve learned where you have real influence and where you need to improve – and it somehow becomes easier to identify those things in others once you’ve gone through the process yourself. It’s not always pretty to reflect inward but knowing we are all in this together with the shared hope of being better people, makes the process worth it.

Consider this the next time you are critical toward the people around you – we’re all growing and learning in this together, and your mess is no more beautiful than their mess.

If you can commit this year to knowing yourself even just a little bit more – your whole world will be well served by it. You’ll become a better spouse, parent, team member, neighbor, friend, community member, you name it. Here’s a few ways to start – learn your Myers-Briggs Type (MBTI) and start to understand your personality better. Take the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and see how you respond to conflict in your life. Try the StrengthsFinder assessment conducted by Gallup to see where you naturally excel. Or possibly most relevant to this article, take The Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQi) to see how self-aware you are today and get a baseline for where to start this process. To 2018’s year of self-knowledge and growth!


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