We all have strengths. Yes, including you. If I asked you to list your top five strengths, could you?

In our field, we are told to be strengths-based and family-centered, a space we operate in with our whole heart. Fueled by a passion and purpose in our work, it can be easier to identify the strengths of others than what lies within our own capability.

But knowing our strengths can help us better notice, harness, and appreciate the strengths of others. This was the goal of the second  Protective Factors Summit, a one-day gathering of 60 Strengthening Families Protective FactorsTM certified trainers in Arizona.

This year, Maureen Hollocker and LaCrisha Rose of the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance presented a training on the Clifton Strengths® Assessment by Gallup. All participants took the in-depth assessment before the summit to receive specific insights regarding their top five strengths. Maureen and LaCrisha prompted participants to explore and own those strengths. Protective Factors trainers led group discussions to  examine how our different strengths build the full picture of our work with and on behalf of families.

The Protective Factors trainers share the  strengths-based lens within their organizations and programs that serve families. We are committed to leveraging families’ strengths rather than putting their deficits under the microscope. We know that asking what is strong rather than what is wrong leads to improved outcomes.

But when it comes to ourselves, it is too easy to focus on what we lack. That is why the work begins with us – a key takeaway from the gathering. One attendee described the power of “owning my strengths. I learned it is okay to sit with the discomfort of talking about what I excel at.” Another attendee felt inspired to “focus on my strengths so I can better lead others to harness their strengths and experience success in life.”

When we can authentically see how our unique combination of strengths adds value to every space in which we live, work, and connect, we can also acknowledge our need and appreciation of others too. This concept runs parallel to the Strengthening Families Protective Factors FrameworkTM which is committed to focusing on protective factors – five strengths that protect and nourish family joys – rather than risk factors whose deficits lead to bad outcomes.

After the training, an attendee shared, “My brain is running with ideas of how to use this information with families as well as within my agency.” Another reflected on how clearly she felt “the strengths-based vibe among everyone. It re-energizes those of us who are overwhelmed in our positions.”

The Protective Factors Summit was funded by the Department of Child Safety Office of Prevention.