Colleen Boselli's picture Submitted by Colleen Boselli January 10, 2017 - 9:19am

What are you planning to do differently in 2017? Some of us welcome this calendar-prompted pause to reflect; others of us find this question daunting, or even a nuisance. Our clients are being asked to set goals for the new year, so coaching conversations may naturally turn to this topic right now.

Here’s my simple, authentic, energizing solution:  Tap your unrealized strengths.

Take advantage of those talents and capabilities where you naturally perform well and that expand your energy – but may not be currently optimized (for whatever reasons) in your life right now.

You probably have several of these under-utilized gifts buried in the back of your closet. They are beloved but forgotten due to the fast-paced, solve-it-now world in which we (and our clients) work. 

I could share countless stories about how people have tapped their unrealized strengths to uncover new ways to solve daunting problems and seize attractive opportunities. I have explored this basic, powerful strength strategy with CEOs, entrepreneurs, college students, corporate executives, junior professionals, cancer patients, retirees, job-seekers …and many more.  Essentially, anyone who is eager to find a new way forward can benefit from -- and truly enjoy -- tapping into their unrealized strengths.

Let’s take Kim. She is a life-long retail executive who was seeking new employment, and she wanted her next stop to be more rewarding. She was seeking inspiration. Once she rediscovered her untapped strength as a gifted story-teller, she decided to pursue opportunities that had not previously been obvious to her. She quickly learned where her passions lie, and she was able to align her strengths with a company that shares the same priorities and passions. 

The great gift to me, as her strengths coach, was to witness Kim deliver the opening keynote address at the most recent Massachusetts Conference for Women -- to an audience of 3000. She passionately described how she transformed her career, once she opened her eyes to her “narrator” strength of being gifted at sharing aspirational stories. She embraced the conference stage in ways she had never previously conceived. The expression of this talent was authentic, moving and palpable. What’s more, Kim’s story inspired her listeners to seek the same deepened self-awareness about their own unrealized strengths. Audience members hung on her moving words and scribbled down her tips. My favorite line from her address was, “Authentic is the new perfect.”  Isn’t she so right?  Real perfection comes when we  know how we can be the best and most genuine version of ourselves.

For me personally, 2017 will be about using more of my key strengths: “curiosity” and “esteem-builder.”  My goal is to help more patients at a Boston-area cancer institute their unrealized strengths.  For example, when I met Margot about a year ago, she had just completed chemotherapy treatments that came on the heels of multiple surgeries. Her cancer diagnosis was daunting and required resilience that was not easy to muster.  I suggested that she (and other Mind Body Resilience workshop participants) complete an online strengths survey. Interestingly, Margot’s results revealed she has an unrealized strength in creativity. However, she felt embarrassed to talk with the other patients about her long-hidden passion for artistic expression as a painter. 

When I used “curiosity” to explore what held her back, Margot declared that she thought she lacked real talent. Yet she talked longingly of the desire to feel the paintbrush in her hand once again.  As an “esteem-builder” for Margot, I couldn’t help but assign her the homework of experimenting with her unrealized strength of creativity.  An enthusiast in this workshop group, Margot agreed to pull out the paints and canvases that were hiding in the back of her closet. What happened next? For nearly 2 weeks straight, Margot sent a daily email to her patient peer group, showing us her latest creations on canvas. You could feel her resilience and happiness return and expand. All it took was the authentic use of her untapped strength. 

What could you do for yourself – or for your clients – if you were to tap one or more of your unrealized strengths in the first months of 2017?

If this idea intrigues you, take the R2 Strengths Profiler survey to learn your unrealized strengths. See  

Undoubtedly, you will find that developing new strengths strategies for yourself -- or for others -- is truly life-changing. It’s simple, authentic, sustainable, and energizing.  

Here’s to maximizing YOUR unrealized strengths in 2017!

Watch Colleen's CoachX video on strengths!