Understanding strength strategies with DeAnna Murphy
By Allyza Quirante
During her workshop tour here in the Philippines, author and founder of People Acuity, DeAnna Murphy, shares her advice in making use of strength strategies. Known for penning the self-improvement book, Shift Up!, she empowers readers to understand their needs and strengths to optimize their way of life. These strategies are practical ways to avoid moments of low energy and performance, spanning from work and career growth to even personal relationships.
We got to sit down with her for a special interview on practical parenting tips, in relation to her specialty on strength strategies. Here are different ways we can improve our relationship with our children while learning how to take care of our own needs as parents:
Q: How can the youth use these strength strategies to feel more confident about themselves, especially in the face of bullying?
A: I think the first answer is a simple one. It’s actually to stop giving your power to feel valuable away to anyone else. Your value can’t be taken away by anyone. You are inherently and intrinsically valuable and it isn’t about whether people like you, whether you perform well, or whether you [always] get it right. When you begin to look for the greatness in yourself, and you begin to notice the moments of high energy and performance, notice the places where you make a difference in other people, that’s where the joy is. It’s not in people liking you. It’s not in the places the world teaches us. The person who begins to look for “How can I make a difference in other people’s lives?” will feel valuable. When you get into the “in” crowd, it doesn’t necessarily make you feel more valuable because it’s codependency.
Q: What is the best advice you could give to parents who want to apply strength strategies?
A: I think the first and fastest way to apply these strategies is to [understand] that every child is unique, every child has unique gifts and talents, and every child has unique needs. The faster that children begin to see their strengths and own their needs, the more able they are to kind of stand in their own strength. That’s actually what’s amazing. I’m from a big family and my parents were really good at that, and so there’s something about taking the time to see children’s strengths; reflecting it back to them when they’re struggling. The greatest and first question is: “What do you need?” And allowing young people to begin to get curious about that, if children are misbehaving, I guarantee that there’s a need. If you know your need and you own your need, then you can increase your ability to perform from a joyful place.
Taking the time to spend time with young people about their strengths and their needs actually help. With a big family, you become more efficient. I had a dad who understood the importance of having one-on-one time. When I was about seven-years-old, he started doing one-on-one interviews with us every other week. He would sit down and spend thirty minutes. He would ask: What’s going well for you? What are you feeling good about? What are you loving right now? And when I’m struggling, he would ask: What do you need [sic]? Even though we didn’t have strength finder language, I learned very young about the places where I was feeling strong and how I could have more of it because I had a dad who asked me. I think it’s the greatest thing you could do, have one-on-one time. When my children were younger, I actually scheduled in my planner 30 to 60 minutes or two hours with each of my children once a week, and I would do what my dad did with me. It became an opportunity for me to reflect back, [and say] well that’s where your strengths are showing so that they could begin to anchor in their strengths, instead of popularity, getting it right, having the right answers, having good grades because there’s no joy in that.
I know that, because I had good grades, I did athletics, and I did all those things, and it never gave me joy. I was like an alcoholic that could never get enough achievement and performance to feel good, so I just had to go get one more and one more. Those things will never make you feel good about yourself, ever. They just leave you feeling empty because joy is always in serving others [sic]. The moment young people begin to realize you have something special and you can use it to help someone, like the story I told about the little girl on the playground. A five-year-old comes over with the strength of caring to come and help somebody who is sad and gives it away and begins to find joy in making a difference [sic]. Even little kids can make a difference and when we feed that back to them and let them know how they’re making a difference, they start to see it so they can replicate.
Q: For parents who are just starting out, how can they learn to grasp the uniqueness of their child’s personalities?
A: You don’t get more patient with your children by trying to be more patient, you get more patient with your children by understanding yourself. When you understand that you have something you’re trying to bring your children when you’re impatient you’re impatient for one of two reasons.
One is that you have a contribution you are trying to make to a child and you can’t figure out how to do it. You think you’re impatient with them but your frustration is really, “I really want to help them grow but I don’t know how to do it.” Part two [is that] you become impatient because your need isn’t being met. A lot of times parents are impatient and they’re frustrated because at that moment they are serving themselves, not their children.
Until you begin to understand how you get hooked and why you do that, then you continue to get impatient with your children; they are not the cause of your impatience, they are the result of misunderstanding yourself [sic]. When you understand yourself, you can stop and go, “Okay, I’m hooked right now. Why am I hooked?” What happens is that it turns impatience into curiosity, and when you move to curiosity you’ve moved to serve them.
Q: For working parents, what role do strength strategies play in continuing to find joy in what their careers?
A: When I visited private companies, in every single one of them, I could tell you in the first 15 minutes I could look at them and I could just see pain staring back at me. By the end of the day, it gets broken open because they start to know why they’re in pain and how they’re creating it. Most of the time we actually reinforce our pain because the way you see [things] drives how you feel, what you do, and what you get. What starts to happen is if you’re not aware of the way you see you just keep repeating patterns and you just keep getting low energy and performance and you think there’s something wrong with you and you have to fix what’s wrong with you. When you can figure out what’s wrong with you when you start to blame what’s around you. The moment you understand your own strengths and you begin to use them, it’s like you can decode your own behavior and by that way, you can decode anyone’s behavior.
It’s very, very powerful because it allows you to hold other people’s misbehavior with so much compassion. You can look at them and say that they’re misbehaving because they’re hurting, the need isn’t met, or because they don’t even know what their need is. So, they wait for someone else to meet it or for something to change so that the need is met, because they don’t understand how to proactively meet it themselves. That’s the power. As soon as you know that, then you never have to live a day in the ‘depletion zone’ again.
It becomes a life of loving people, [developing] a connection with everyone. It’s even strangers because they’re hurting too and when you start to see them and believe in their capability, it changes everything. We bump into people [and] then we bump them up and we feel joyful because others are bumped up. It’s a great way to live.