My first solo in church was “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. One of the lines in the song is “find your strength in love.” As I looked at President Obama in a photo with his family it is obvious to me that he finds his strength in them. As a leadership coach, I have thought about strength in ways that expand the conventional view of the word. I have broken it down into two types of strength: internal strength and external strength.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines strength as “the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance.” In other words, strength can be seen as the maximum force one can exert. I only have enough strength to lift my body weight. I can’t lift anything beyond that. I call that internal strength or leveraging all you have inside.
External strength is strength you use outside of yourself. Let’s say you weigh 150 lbs and can only lift your body weight and you need to lift 250 lbs. You will have to seek additional means to accomplish the task. Either some type of tool, lever, pulley, mechanical lift would be needed or additional people could support you.
As a leader it is important to know how strong you are? It is equally important to know when you exceed your lifting capacity? And when faced with a challenge that exceeds that capacity, how do you make up the difference? A true leader knows how to not only find their own strength (and strength reserves) but how to find the strength in others and effectively leverage that strength for the collective good or task at hand.
So, I return to the song lyric of “find your strength in love.” When you face a task that appears to call for more strength than you can muster from within, think consciously about where you can find your strength externally and you will. Trust me, I’m a singer.
See the gallery of the Obamas and their palpable strength transfers to Barack. Collect your own photos of strength transfers of those that give you strength and keep them in your phone, your office, etc to be able to draw on them when you need to.