Last month I wrote about building financial capability and touched on a couple of key areas towards that goal. One part of the overall strategy is using a strengths-based approach through building on client strengths. The source of all this knowledge is, of course, the client and some clients have difficulty looking at themselves honestly and clearly. Some clients are reluctant to talk about themselves and this can be for a number of reasons. Other clients can’t stop talking about themselves and throw in a few extra more exciting (and usually fictitious) parts of their lives for good measure.
The budget service relies on the client to be open, honest and clear about what they consider their own strengths are and because this can be difficult to do, clients usually start by telling us what they are not good at. We want our clients to remain positive in their outlook on life so we encourage them to talk about the good things in their life and it is quite surprising about the number and depth of strengths that our clients possess.
Some of our clients have external strengths such as strong family, church and community support but all have internal strengths such as resilience, faith, hope, compassion and determination. So you ask, how do you convert these internal strengths into dollars and cents? The simple answer is to match these strengths with actions and behaviour that will maximise opportunities for future gain. For instance, strong resilience and determination can be used in job seeking using the determination in seeking the right training for the area you want to work in, working hard to identify job opportunities through all your family, friends, social media and community networks, not just Work & Income. It will be tough and resilience is required to move past the knock backs, perhaps take a lower paying job as a temporary stop gap for that preferred higher paying job, keeping everything in perspective and keeping your emotions under control and understanding that sometimes only time can remove some barriers. In my opinion of all of the internal strengths a person has the greatest is self-belief which leads to self-determination and understanding yourself.
So, in closing this article I have a small challenge for you the reader. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and after writing your name in the middle write around that name your main strengths (external and internal) then other strengths related or derived from those. You can even draw pictures if you like or take a more orderly approach just listing down the page. Do not include anything negative or illegal but you will be surprised at how these strengths can and will lead to others. Good luck and have fun.
Pakanui Tuhura (Manager – Rotorua Budget Advisory Service Inc)