The word “resources” can have multiple meanings and, in the world of work, it is often used to refer to the set of tools and means available to a company or team. It therefore includes economic resources, raw materials and products, as well as human resources.

If we focus on the individual, we might notice that each of us is characterized by a set of resources, that is our own talents and skills, the knowledge we possess and the abilities we master as well as the networks of relationships we are embedded in. In this perspective, each individual is “rich in resources”. At the same time, we are all characterized by faults, shortcomings, and limitations. If, from a broader perspective, such set of resources and faults might outline a certain scenario, things change dramatically if the same set of talents and faults is applied to a specific role or challenge.

Moreover, we need to take into account that, while an objective assessment of our talents and skills throughout a competency mapping or potential analysis is possible, it is the subjective feeling we have of our resources that really matters. We might tend to under- or overestimate ourselves.

When undertaking a self-empowerment process and exploring new possibilities, being capable of drawing upon one’s existing resources is empowering. This also means acknowledging one’s strengths and relying on them. In this perspective, at first, one faces the world showing his/her abilities and – while obviously being far from perfection – he/she will feel entitled to and capable of doing something. Actually, the self-empowerment approach stems from this very intuition: the more I will be in touch with my resources, the stronger and more capable of facing new challenges I will be, the more I will be keen to raise my standards.

Such an approach has originally been used in contexts where individual limitations were extremely strong, such as rehabilitation centers in which people were confronted with disabilities, addictions, poverty or shortages of various kinds.

Therefore, mainly focusing on the existing resources allows us to acknowledge our shortcomings while at the same time maintaining a feeling of trust, power, and openness.

Such an attitude is useful at least in three different ways:

  • when I am asked to help someone (an employee as well as a colleague, a manager, a family member, a friend), the more I am capable of acknowledging his/her resources, of challenging him/her to actually use them, of pushing him/her to do his/her best and to get out of his/her comfort zone, the more effective I will be in helping him/her enhance his/her qualities;

  • when I think of myself and the possibilities I would like to open up to, I will be more free to explore inasmuch as I will truly feel in touch with my resources;
  • within a team, when the working agreement is based on the shared commitment to using one’s resources, all the team members will feel enabled and called to express their talents at their full potential and, at the same time, honest feedback will circulate among colleagues and everybody will “demand” that others make the best of their talents. In companies as well as in sports, such agreements characterize the teams it is most beautiful (and the hardest) to play with.

Try this three step exercise out:

  1. Make a list of your top ten qualities. Try to include as many contexts and fields as you can and avoid occupying different positions in the list with synonyms of resources you have already mentioned;
  2. Now choose three or four people to ask feedback to: have them tell you what they appreciate about you and what, in their opinion, are your best qualities;
  3. Lastly, compare the feedback you received with your list: mark the ones that confirm your self-perception and, most importantly, focus on the resources (if any) that others acknowledged about you and that did not appear on your list. Try reflecting on such qualities: Why weren’t they on your list? Do you own them? Do you use them to their full or do you tend to underestimate them?
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