13 December 2011 - Realise2 Strengths Dynamics #25
We all know them. The people who are always centre-stage, captivating our attention for one reason or another, whether we want them to or not. Chances are, they have the Spotlight strength. People with Spotlight have what it takes to get us to pay attention to them. But the reasons they want our attention, and what they do with this attention when they have it, will vary according to their strengths dynamics, as we explore next.
Combine Spotlight and Adventure, and you find Richard Branson. We debated where to place Sir Richard in The Strengths Book Hall of Fame - Action, Adventure, Bounceback, Catalyst, Strategic Awareness, the list goes on - it could have been so many! But ultimately we chose Spotlight, since above all else, he gets us to pay attention - he is the brand. And one of the key ways he does this is through the Spotlight-Adventure combination - taking risks that mean we can't help but be interested in what he is doing and why.
When Spotlight pairs with Efficacy, you find a person like Oprah Winfrey. Confident in themselves, but using this confidence to command our attention and respect. Again, this builds a brand - the television show, the book club, the magazine, the merchandising. Confidence and the ability to hold people's attention are a powerful mix.
Pair Spotlight and Counterpoint, as Vivienne Westwood does, and the combination holds our attention by challenging what we believe. We may object, but we find it impossible to look away. This strengths dynamic means that we are captivated by the fact that our assumptions and beliefs are being turned on their head - and yet still we are mesmerised, unable to resist the allure of the challenge to our views.
For someone like Nelson Mandela, Spotlight combines with Mission. Here we see an over-riding sense of purpose and destiny that commands our attention and focus. For the person themselves, they may even experience the loss of their own ego in the process, as they see themselves as simply a tool of their Mission, and their Spotlight as a means to achieve this.
The same might be said of when Spotlight is primed with Empathic Connection, as we see with Esther Rantzen. We may be the focus of attention, but we use ourselves as a vehicle for connecting with the concerns of others, be it consumer rights, children's welfare or racial equality. We can stand out in front of the crowd, while at the same time showing that we share the feelings and emotional experiences of that crowd. This combination is powerful, and can focus and unleash the power of the collective through the Spotlight focus of the individual.
Spotlight and Humour is a special dynamic when these two strengths are found together. Think Peter Kay (my wife, a fellow Boltonian, is his biggest fan). For the Spotlight-Humour dynamic, the comedian keeps us focused and entertained in equal measure, so that two hours can pass like two minutes - and our attention has not wavered for a second: the real hallmark of the Spotlight strength!
And finally, we find perhaps the most intriguing dynamic of all: when Spotlight pairs with Humility. "How could these two strengths even co-exist in the same person?", you might ask, thinking of the archetypal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And yet they do. When I have explored why, the answer often comes that these two strengths operate in combination like the sun and the moon - each have their time and their place, but it is rarely together. The cycle just needs to be in balance for experience to be optimal.
Such, we might conclude, would be the same for all strengths. And so we return, once again, to the golden mean of strengths use: the right strength, to the right amount, in the right way, at the right time.
Follow this maxim, and you will not go far wrong in mastering the dynamics of strengths, strategy and situation, wherever your attention may be lured.
With best wishes,
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