Participants in the Northwest Community College Initiative program (NWCCI) are encouraged to focus on their strengths and use those strengths to become more effective leaders. Below Guduru Sadanand Ashwini, a media student from India at Pierce College, writes about discovering her hidden strengths during a Dependable Strengths workshop at the NWCCI mid-year leadership retreat. In the Dependable Strengths workshop participants reflected on their experiences in life, identified patterns of strengths, and learned how to talk about their dependable strengths in ways that demonstrate their value to an organization, community, or potential employer.
Everyone has great strengths. Some people already know themselves and others will learn them through experiences they have. There are some people, like me, who didn’t think that they have any kind of strengths. They are held back in their lives due to fear, shyness and thinking they are weak at everything.
I used to be someone who always thought that I couldn’t do anything, I didn’t have any strengths, and I was not fit for anything. This is what I thought when I was in school until I was selected for the CCI program. I realized my strengths and the weaknesses through some good and bad experiences that I faced and also the critical situations in which I needed to stand for myself with my strengths and defeat my weakness. Then I was able to be strong in every situation and face the problems while finding solutions.
I thought these were my strengths and weaknesses but actually I have many other strengths as well. Each and everyone has hidden strengths that they would never even think they had until hearing other people’s feedback. I learned about this when I attended a Dependable Strengths workshop as part of the NWCCI program at our mid-year leadership retreat.
This workshop is a really good way to discover hidden strengths which you would never have thought about on your own. In this workshop we were asked to do some activities, like connecting nine dots with four straight lines without lifting the pencil. I was surprised how the dot exercise was helpful to solve problems and later on we learned that sometimes thinking beyond the boundaries will help you to find the solution for your problem. The next activity seemed like a kids’ activity, but it actually helped us find hidden strengths. We were asked to draw a good experience that happened to us before the age of 10. After you drew and explained what your drawing meant, you shared the story and got feedback about the strengths you showed in your story from other people in the small group we were working with. This helped us make sense of our good experiences.
The next activity was really interesting. We had to make a list of ten good experiences of childhood and select the best examples to share with your group. The interesting part was after you shared the stories of your good experiences with your group then you got feedback from each one of them. This helped you identify the qualities and strengths that make you successful in life. The amazing thing is that everyone received feedback of their strengths that they used to make success.
I also asked for feedback of the workshop from my friends and learned that they also enjoyed sharing stories and getting feedback on their hidden strengths. One of my friends even said that he feels so proud and good to look back past experiences. During the Dependable Strengths workshop, he was made to feel that he was doing great things in his life and he realized that all those good experiences helped him get where he is today.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.