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Are You Staying True to Your Strengths?
by Susan Dunn

I stopped by a preschool the other day, and met Sam. He caught my eye right away because he had presence. We call him "Mr. President," the teacher told me. "He's bossy."

Sam was focused on a car he was playing with. When I walked up to him, he looked up slowly, with confidence. Something told me not to talk to him like a preschooler.

"What's your name?" I asked him. "I am Sam," he said.

"Sam, I am?" I countered, laughing. (You know, Dr. Seuss) He looked back, curious but not amused.

"I am Sam," he repeated, more firmly.

"Want to talk?" I asked.

"Okay," he said, centered. He put the car carefully aside. "Let's count backward from 10 in Spanish." Then he added, "You sit" pointing to the chair beside him.

So I sat down and did what he said!

I think I encountered a future CEO. He showed lots of innate strengths that would point to that.


Strengths show up early in childhood and continue with us throughout our life. They may be repressed, neglected, or even devalued, because someone's tried to make us "well-rounded," but they'll always be there.

Knowing what yours are and staying close to them is the path to happiness.


You can take an assessment. StrengthsFinder(tm) is one. The VIA Signature Strengths(tm) is another.

Also pay attention to these things:

  • If you're asked to do something you've never done before and take to it like a duck to water.

  • If you do something and the observer says "Where did that come from?" instead of "Can you teach me that?"

  • When you do something so well you think everyone else can, they just aren't (why coaches are a good idea - to point this out )

  • When something gives you deep satisfaction, a sort of "flow"

  • When you do it for fun


    Back to Sam.

    Later I heard him sing perfectly on-key, unlike most of the others in the class. This clinched it - he's left-brained. His idea of a "conversation" was to use numbers and a foreign language - symbolic - and music is a symbolic language. Math and music usually go together. He used little facial expression or gestures. He spoke directly in one-syllable words. He stayed on-task.

    Sam showed the innate strength of Self-assurance, Focus, and Command. People with Command feel comfortable giving orders and pressing their own opinions. People are drawn to them, says the assessment. They have presence.

    Sam didn't enjoy "idle conversation" like a Realtor would, and didn't try to win me over, like a WOO (Winning Others Over) would.

    Find out what your strengths are and build your life around them. It works.

    Recommended reading: "Now, Discover Your Strengths."



    Susan Dunn may be contacted at
    Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, offers positive coaching and Internet courses in emotional intelligence, transitions, career, midlife. Take The EQ Foundation Course©. She is the author of numerous ebooks, is widely published on the Internet, and a regular speaker for cruise lines. For Internet marketing, go here: Profesionals, coaches, entrepreneurs and small businesses.



    Copyright © Michele Caron, 2002-2005